Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has come out guns blazing against the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), accusing it of abuse of power and of putting his job on the line by unfairly treating him as a suspect.
Mabuyane’s shocking claims are contained in a sworn affidavit filed at the Bhisho High Court on September 14.
Given the date on which the court papers were filed, it is clear that he was facing an investigation by the Hawks while the office of the Public Protector was finalising its report on an investigation in which he is implicated.
The money was meant for the memorial service of the late former ANC struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was born in the small town of Mbizana.
Mabuyane has since indicated his intentions to take the findings for judicial review.
His court papers, meant to stop the Hawks from investigating him, also reveal that the investigations by the unit and by the Public Protector were the same.
The Hawks have also questioned the premier about a Jeep Cherokee which he allegedly acquired through dubious means.
Mabuyane believes that the division of the Hawks that is investigating him, from Bloemfontein in the Free State, has some political influence from suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Mabuyane contends that Magashule has a political score to settle with him since he was instrumental in calling for him to step aside as secretary-general following allegations of corruption.
“On May 7 2021, he [Magashule] was recorded in an interview with the SABC in which he claimed that certain allegations were made against me by a certain Bam, but the [Hawks were] not investigating those allegations. He went on to allege that institutions of state were manipulated to serve political ends. The essence of his complaints was that I am perceived to be politically aligned with the president of the country and of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, and for this reason the [Hawks] have not investigated me,” wrote Mabuyane.
He said that he was not aware that the Hawks was investigating him prior to the statement by Magashule.
Regarding the Hawks investigation against him, Mabuyane claims that he was first contacted by a Captain Calitz from the Free State office of the Hawks on July 21, who informed him of his intentions to interview him about allegations made against him. An appointment was made on August 4, when in the presence of his attorney the interview took place.”
“I was further informed that the purpose of the meeting was to take a warning statement,” Mabuyane submitted in the court papers.
He said certain specific points were raised about each allegation levelled against him relating to corruption, fraud and money laundering without details of specifics of each allegation being placed before him.
He said an agreement was reached to provide him with full details of each allegation, with supporting bank statements, before August 13.
“I did not receive the details that I had asked for. Nor did I receive the supporting documents which the Hawks undertook to give me at the meeting.”
Mabuyane, who has been under scrutiny following the Public Protector’s findings against him, said he instituted the application against the Hawks in light of its unconstitutional conduct of the DPCI, which he claims has acted unlawfully.
He said the Hawks were was on a fishing expedition in the hope that he would incriminate himself.
He has denied any involvement or interaction with the Mbizana Local Municipality and the payments which were made.
He said the Hawks would be acting under complete malice to continue branding his name as a suspect.
“I submit that those malicious goals are related to the political posture that has been adopted by Magashule. Otherwise there is no explanation for why a matter that first surfaced in 2019 and was never pursued suddenly resurfaced a month after Magashule made a public pronouncement that the [was not investigating me,” said Mabuyane.
He said he would not wait until his arrest to exercise his rights, adding that a decision on whether to charge him or not would have serious consequences for him because the landscape has changed since the ANC introduced the step-aside rule.
“The rule of law cannot countenance a situation in which the conduct of the Hawks is not subject to constitutional control. On the Hawks’ attitude, they do not want any rules to apply to me on the flimsy basis that I am a suspect and not an accused. Yet they know that once I am accused I should lose my position in government and the ANC. This is an abuse of power,” Mabuyane wrote.
Responding to Mabuyane’s allegations contained in his affidavit, Hawks national spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said the investigation into the allegations of corruption and fraud within the Eastern Cape provincial government began in May 2019 and concluded in March 2021.
“Thereafter, the person of interest was approached by the investigators to advise on the allegations against him. The Hawks then received a notice of motion in September 2021, which the State Attorney filed a notice to oppose on September 22,” she said.
Regarding suggestions by Mabuyane that the Hawks in Free State had no jurisdiction to investigate matters in the Eastern Cape, Mogale said: “From time to time the Hawks investigate cases across provincial borders. It has taken place in various instances such as the Durban Waste investigation, Nafiz Modack investigation, Eskom prepaid electricity fraud. From time to time, the national head will assign investigators from different provinces to probe cases that aren’t necessarily situated in their own provinces, or even where their offices are based.”
This story has been updated to include comment from the Hawks.