Just days before Public Protector Thuli Madonsela makes public the report into the alleged undue relationship between President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family, the controversial family has accused Madonsela of bias.
Through its lawyers, the Gupta family said the report is an attempt to throw the last punch at President Jacob Zuma.
The report – on the investigation into improper and unethical conduct by Zuma and officials of state organs regarding alleged inappropriate relationships with members of the Gupta family – is expected to be Madonsela’s final report before she leaves office at the end of this week.
The Guptas claim Madonsela had a predetermined view on how her report would look and that evidence was gathered as window-dressing.
In a letter dated October 11 2016 and addressed to Madonsela, Ajay Gupta’s lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, claims irregularities in how Madonsela investigated this matter and cautions that whatever Madonsela conclusions are, they will be an expression of her views.
The letter reveals that like Zuma, the oldest Gupta sibling – through his lawyers – wanted to interview witnesses that gave evidence to Madonsela.
“I have indicated on numerous occasions that I would like to have the opportunity to address the witnesses who gave evidence before you and I insisted to be afforded the opportunity to exercise my client’s rights for which provision is clearly made in the Public Protector Act.
“You have brushed my correspondence off and did not even respond thereto,” wrote Van der Merwe.
He also claimed that Madonsela sought to sideline the Gupta brothers and only interviewed Ajay Gupta at the lawyer’s insistence.
“I have persistently indicated to your offices over the past few days that I am concerned about the fact that you have decided to sideline the Gupta family and witnesses in support of their version from your investigation and your report.
“You are aware of the fact that you chose not to subpoena any of the three Gupta brothers to give evidence despite the fact you intend to conclude a report which will in all likelihood have severe conclusions contained therein,” wrote Van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe claims when Madonsela eventually interviewed Ajay Gupta, she appeared agitated and irritated and had her eye on the clock as she was going to address a press conference later that day.
“I have warned constantly against your approach and the processes followed, all in vain, just to be advised earlier this morning that you will issue your report on Friday.”
Van der Merwe accused Madonsela of ignoring the Public Protector Act, which he says “leaves me flabbergasted”.
“I submit that a forced report with adverse conclusions under these circumstances will not be ... in good faith. It will, on the contrary, be an effort to force your views and it is obvious that you show distrust in your successor under these circumstances.
“It begs the questions whether you leave a well-respected office with ill-intent and with a last punch at your rival, the president,” wrote Van der Merwe.
The Public Protector office had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publishing.