The latest allegation linking Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to the Gupta family is an attempt to force her out of office, said her spokesperson. File picture: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Johanensburg - Some political formations have agreed with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane that the latest allegation linking her to the controversial Gupta family is a malicious attempt to shred her reputation and force her out of office as soon as possible.

On Tuesday night, Mkhwebane’s office issued a long and strong-worded statement, when the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project alleged she received $5000 (R70877) in 2014 from a Hong Kong-based bank, and that it was from the Guptas.

The report said the money was sent from an account at HSBC’s subsidiary in Hong Kong to First National Bank in South Africa.

In the statement, her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the report, which was later picked up by local media outlets, was malicious and defamatory. It was strange that the reporting project had linked that money to the Guptas without evidence, he added.

When asked on Wednesday if they had concrete evidence that there are people who are out to get Mkhwebane, Segalwe said the patterns suggest such.

“We are deducing that from what is happening presently, and it shows that there are attempts to tarnish her name by all means necessary,” he said.

Adding their voice to Mkhwebane’s matter, the Radical Economic Transformation Champion (RET) said it was an open secret that there was an attempt to force the public protector out of office by using dirty tricks.

Chairperson Nkosentsha Shezi said as a result, it was pleading with the people of the country to support her during this perceived attempt.

“The attacks directed at the public protector are very scary but not surprising. We expected them, because those who are claiming to fight corruption are trying to deal with those exposing their nefarious deeds.

“What they are doing is to paint Mkhwebane as part of the so-called fight back campaign, while there is no such thing as a fight back campaign”

Shezi said the attack on Mkhwebane was aimed at derailing her efforts to hold the powerful to account.

This echoes what Segalwe said on Tuesday, that ever since Mkhwebane started investigating the conduct of certain powerful people, she has been the target of dirty tricks from some figures and their allies, in civil society and political circles.

But Durban-based independent political analyst Thabani Khumalo said it was hard to tell whether the allegations by the reporting project were meant to force Mkhwebane out of office before Parliament had discussed her matter.

Khumalo said some of the allegations that were sometimes baseless, were aimed at ensuring Mkhwebane was weakened to the extent she would one day find herself alone.

“These allegations are serious, and damaging her reputation. Bear in mind that these allegations came at a time when she was already under pressure as a result of the court rulings against her findings, and her,” Khumalo said.

Mkhwebane can only convince the public that there are moves to force her out of office by providing evidence to back it up, Khumalo said.

“Having said that, the allegations are tarnishing her name and if indeed it is true that someone is pulling the strings, this is a well-crafted campaign as it is working in their favour.”

Political Bureau