High Court sets aside Mkhwebane's CR17 donation report in scathing judgment

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane.
Jan Gerber, News24, file

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report into President Cyril Ramaphosa, in which it was found that he deliberately misled Parliament about a donation to his ANC presidential (CR17) campaign.

Mkhwebane's findings included material errors in law, a full Bench of the court ruled. Furthermore, the court found she did not have jurisdiction to investigate the funding of the CR17 campaign.

A full Bench of the court handed down judgment on Tuesday .

The court ruled her findings included material errors in law. Furthermore, the court found she did not have jurisdiction to investigate the funding of the CR17 campaign.

READ | Courts are being abused to weaken the Public Protector's office, says Mkhwebane

The court set aside the July 2019 report and the remedial actions contained in the report.

This included remedial actions directing the speaker of Parliament and the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to conduct further investigations - which included "instructing" NDPP Shamila Batohi to investigate "suspicions of money laundering" and instructing National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to refer Ramaphosa's non-disclosure of donations to the joint committee on ethics, as well as directing Ramaphosa to declare all the donations to the CR17 campaign. 

The court also set aside the finding that Ramaphosa violated the Executive Members Ethics Act by failing to declare the donations to Parliament, and it ruled that he had received no personal financial benefit and was not obliged to declare. 

The court found Mkhwebane displayed a "complete lack of basic knowledge of the law and its application" and further, in a scathing judgement, called some of her findings "unfathomable". 

Two complaints

Mkhwebane was also ordered to pay Ramaphosa's costs on a punitive scale.

The report followed an investigation by Mkhwebane, which was initiated after two complaints from opposition party leaders - former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu.

On 8 November 2018, Maimane asked Ramaphosa about a R500 000 payment which was believed to have made to his son, Andile, by corruption-accused company Bosasa.

Ramaphosa responded that he was aware of Andile's contract with Bosasa and that he had been assured that it was above board.

A week later, Ramaphosa addressed a letter to Modise when he was alerted that the bank account in question, named by Maimane and contained in an affidavit by former Bosasa auditor Peet Venter, actually belonged to the CR17 campaign.

The court also commented on Mkhwebane's apparent failure to address part of the Shivambu complaint, which called on the Public Protector to determine whether Andile Ramaphosa did, in fact, have a contract with Bosasa.

The court found it strange that Mkhwebane had made no mention of this in her report.

News24 found that Ramaphosa Jr had had a contract with Bosasa, but was not completely honest about the full amount that he was paid.

This is a developing story. More information to follow.

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