Just how did Mkhwebane get access to Ramaphosa’s bank account?

Oupa Segalwe
Oupa Segalwe

The Public Protector’s spokesperson has hit back at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s legal team, saying that all the information Busisiwe Mkhwebane has in her possession was obtained legally.

Oupa Segalwe told eNCA today that “the Public Protector follows the law to the letter with each investigation she conducts”.

He was commenting on reports that Ramaphosa’s legal team wanted certain documents in Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report into Bosasa sealed.

Ramaphosa’s team wrote to the Pretoria High Court to request that details of banks accounts linked to his election campaign not be made public.

Ramaphosa’s team is also questioning how Mkhwebane obtained the documents.

“It would not be true that she has acquired information unlawfully. She has got wide-ranging powers to obtain information for purposes of her investigation, from subpoena to search and seizure as well as to receive information from whistleblowers,” Segalwe told eNCA.

“That is me speaking generally. I suppose when the matter finally makes its way to the court, those issues will be clarified for one and for all,” he said.

The papers submitted by the President’s lawyers on Thursday suggested that some of the bank statements might have been obtained unlawfully.

Four bank accounts were noted by Ramaphosa’s lawyers, including his own foundation’s account, the EFG2 account, which housed Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign funds

“The Public Protector does not state that she subpoenaed bank records from Standard Bank. Therefore, it is unclear how the Public Protector obtained the bank records of the Ria Tenda Trust,” Ramaphosa’s lawyers said.

Mkhwebane found that the president misled Parliament in his response to a question about a R500 000 donation from Bosasa for his ANC presidential campaign in 2017. She also found that there could have been possible money laundering, which she ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate.

The president’s lawyers suspected Mkhwebane had a whistle blower, and said that the information supplied “by the anonymous whistleblower, and the leaked emails which allegedly indicate that our client knew the identities of the donors of the CR17 campaign, only be made to the court and respondents”.

Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued that the president was unaware of the donation from Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson.

“His campaign managers’ attempt to meet with Watson to return the money had supposedly been unsuccessful, and, as a result, the R500 000 was transferred into an attorney’s account “until such time as these matters surrounding Global African Operations are clarified following various concerning disclosures before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture”, the letter read.

Thereafter, he said he would make a decision on whether the money should be returned to Watson, passed on to appropriate government authorities or be donated to a charity.

Earlier this year, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane revealed to Mkhwebane that he had written to the state capture inquiry under Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to ask for the president to be subpoenaed to appear before the inquiry.

The Public Protector accused the president of failing to uphold the Constitution by not implementing her remedial action. Ramaphosa accused her of not understanding her constitutional duties.

Ramaphosa, in a detailed affidavit given to Zondo, who chairs the commission, admitted meeting the Guptas several times but said the exchanges did not go beyond pleasantries.

Ramaphosa’s application for an interdict to suspend Mkhwebane’s remedial action is scheduled to be heard on Monday.

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