Durban - The war between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the SA Reserve Bank and top banks is far from over.
Mkhwebane is forging ahead with her investigation into alleged apartheid economic crimes implicating the Reserve Bank, top banks and business people.
She came under attack from the Reserve Bank and Absa last week.
In an affidavit, Absa accused her of having ulterior motives when she said in her June report that R1.125billion in apartheid-era government funds should be recovered from Absa and the Reserve Bank’s mandate must be changed.
The Reserve Bank, in an affidavit filed last week, accused the Public Protector of being part of a conspiracy involving the State Security Agency.
The matter is a sequel to a report by Ciex, a covert UK-based asset recovery agency. The company was contracted by the government between October 1997 and December 1998 to advise on how to recoup money it lost due to apartheid-era looting or illicit activity.
Thabo Mbeki, who was then deputy president, and several other government officials were interviewed as part of the investigation.
The company subsequently produced a report suggesting billions of rand was stolen during the apartheid era, of which R26bn was recoverable immediately.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Cleopatra Mosana, said Mkhwebane had received a complaint from a group of ANC MPs against the SA Reserve Bank, Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Financial Intelligence Centre, the Treasury, SA Airways, Eskom, the SA Revenue Service, South African businessmen, banks and insurance companies.
While Mosana did not disclose the identities of the businesspeople being investigated, it’s understood the Ruperts are among individuals cited in the Ciex report.
Mosana said because of the complexity of the matter, the volume of evidence obtained and probabilities of interviewing several witnesses, the investigation could take up to two years.
She disclosed that the MPs were recently invited to a meeting with Mkhwebane and had provided supporting documents.
Asked if Mkhwebane was not concerned by claims that the ANC MPs’ complaint was an attempt to dilute an inquiry into state capture allegations, Mosana said Mkhwebane was concerned with such “unsubstantiated claims as they are undermining the independence and effectiveness of the public protector”.
Loyiso Mpumlwana, one of the ANC MPs who lodged a complaint with Mkhwebane’s office, said support for them was “substantial and has been growing” and the group now comprised about 150 MPs.
“We unequivocally support the ANC statement that called for an urgent state capture investigation that is broadened to include all the big corporations,” Mpumlwana said.
He added: “Solely focusing on allegations against the Gupta family while ignoring crime by white monopoly capital which has for decades controlled and still controls the economy is akin to chasing the rabbit while ignoring the buffalo.”
While Mpumlwana was adamant the MPs’ action enjoyed ANC support, party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “The ANC read in the media of the intention by a group of ANC MPs to lodge a complaint with the public protector as individuals, not on behalf of the ANC.”
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela launched a probe into the Ciex report after a complaint was laid by advocate Paul Hoffman in 2010.
The 52-page report, which Mkhwebane released in June, argued that the country’s financial systems were inherently corrupt, under the control of the Broederbond and had served the interests of the old regime.
Ciex identified three major opportunities to recover funds: Absa (R3.2bn), Sanlam and the then Rembrandt Group (R3bn to R6bn) and up to R5.5bn from Aerospatiale and DaimlerChrysler.