Phala Phala,stint at NPA haunt Kholeka Gcaleka at public protector interview

Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka.

Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka.

Published Aug 24, 2023


Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka’s stint at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and her probe into the Phala Phala scandal came back to haunt her when she was interviewed on Thursday.

Gcaleka, the last to be interviewed out of the eight candidates, was grilled by DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach for her vocal support of former NPA head Menzi Simelane when she was chairperson of the Prosecutors' Association.

In her response, Gcaleka said she was supportive of the transformative agenda Simelane stood for at the time.

“It is an agenda I still support even in the Office of the Public Protector,” she said, adding that she was against any form of racism.

But Breytenbach said she had supported Simelane not only for transformation but other agendas to destroy the NPA, and went on to mention that Simelane was found by courts to not be a fit and proper person.

Gcaleka said she could not have supported another agenda.

“I was not part of decision-making. I had no idea of his other agenda,” she said.

EFF MP Omphile Maotwe raised the question of Gcaleka’s membership to the ANC Youth League.

“I possess no membership of the ANC or any other political party,” she said.

Maotwe grilled Gcaleka on the Phala Phala investigation, noting that the SARB found no perfected transaction.

Defending herself, Gcaleka said her report did not investigate the sale of the game as it did not have power to do so.

“It is a private matter that does not fall within the ambit of the Public Protector. Our role is to investigate state affairs,” she said.

Gcaleka added that they did not confirm that a legal sale took place regarding the game at Phala Phala farm.

Asked about the year it took to finalise the Phala Phala investigation, Gcaleka ascribed the duration to the lack of resources and finances.

She also said the Office of Public Protector was usually unable to conclude Executive Members Ethics Act investigation within a month.

On the issue of paid work by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Gcaleka said they had to look at the totality of what happened and came to a conclusion that there was a financial interest, not paid work.

She also denied an assertion by Maotwe that she had failed the initial security vetting when she was to be appointed as an advisor to former minister Malusi Gigaba.

Asked whether she had advised Gigaba as a ministerial advisor about his relationship with the Guptas, she said she had no knowledge of a relationship between the two at the time.

“I asked him and denied association with the Gupta family. It was not my duty to protect the minister. My duty was to advise in line with duty in serving the republic, not on anything personal,” Gcaleka added.

On how her stint as ministerial advisor honed her experience, she said it made her understand the public service much better as at the NPA she did not deal with administration.

“It was for me to understand administration and the role of the exec authority, but also the role of executive authority in the form of the Public Finance Management Act as an accounting officer,” Gcaleka said.

Cape Times