The court battle between Ramaphosa and the Public Protector continues

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria is on Monday expected to hear an application by President Cyril Ramaphosa for an urgent interim interdict on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's Bosasa report.

The Sunday Times reported that advocates Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and Wim Trengove had been briefed to represent Ramaphosa.

In her report, Mkhwebane came to the conclusion that there is merit to allegations of money laundering, based on the facts before her.

Mkhwebane detailed how the R500 000 donation by Bosasa's Gavin Watson made its way to the CR17 trust account, noting that it went through several intermediaries before landing in Ramaphosa's campaign fund.

She also found that just over R191m was transferred into the CR17 account between December 2016 and January 2018.

Around the same amount was transferred out of the account during the same period, Mkhwebane said.

READ: CR17 was run as a clean campaign, says Presidency amid leaking of funders' names

She added that three amounts of around R31m, R39m, and over R51m were transferred by the same donor into the CR17 account.

"In conclusion, on the above revelations relating to the exchanges of large sums of money, some of which [was] received from private companies, I wish to express my preliminary view that such a scenario, when looked at carefully, creates a situation of the risk of some sort of state capture by those donating these monies to the campaign," Mkhwebane said.

Ramaphosa then decided to take Mkhwebane's report, in which it was found that he had violated the executive code of ethics, on urgent judicial review.

Mkhwebane's spokesperson Oupa Segalwe recently confirmed she would not oppose Ramaphosa's application for an interim interdict pending the review but said the move "does not mean she is backing down".

News24 revealed that leaked emails from the CR17 campaign showed that Ramaphosa was consulted by his campaign managers on certain potential donors, despite consistent denials that he was involved in the fundraising efforts of the campaign.

The emails obtained by News24 formed part of Mkhwebane’s report into complaints by the DA and EFF over a response given by Ramaphosa to DA leader Mmusi Maimane in Parliament, in November 2018.

READ: Ramaphosa asks court to seal 'unlawfully obtained' documents in Public Protector's Bosasa report

Maimane asked about a supposed payment to the president’s son, Andile, from corruption-accused company Bosasa.

But it turned out, the payment mentioned by Maimane was actually a donation to the CR17 campaign by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson – which Ramaphosa himself revealed in a letter to the speaker of Parliament.

On Friday, it emerged that Ramaphosa had approached the Gauteng High Court in a bid to have certain bank statement in her report sealed and not made available to the public.

His spokesperson Khusela Diko told News24 that some of the documents belong to private entities and on that basis should remain confidential.

READ: Ramaphosa vs Mkhwebane: PP insists Bosasa report is above board as president flags 'unlawful' activity

"It is our view that the documents are unrelated to the complaint the Public Protector was investigating and were or may have been obtained unlawfully."

Since she improperly broadened her investigation into what are private entities not subject to her purview it is only appropriate that their privacy be protected as the law allows," said Diko.

Segalwe however said the investigation was above board.

"The PP conducted the investigation by the book. There was no [un]lawful activity," he told News24.

Once filed in court, the documents become public information which would be available to everyone, Segalwe said.

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