Cyril Ramaphosa plotting Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s arrest

Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane and President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters and Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane and President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters and Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 14, 2020


Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is facing arrest for an allegation of perjury. A Star investigation has uncovered that Mkhwebane was last week expected to submit a warning statement at the Hillbrow police station in Joburg.

The statement would act as an admission of guilt in a plot to have her arrested before she delivers a report in which President Cyril Ramaphosa is being investigated for approving the ANC’s controversial trip to Zimbabwe on a defence force aircraft.

A source at the Hillbrow SAPS has revealed to Independent Media that on Tuesday, someone from Ramaphosa’s office made a WhatsApp call to a police officer at the station asking why Mkhwebane was not arrested yet.

Ramaphosa was believed to be behind the move to have her charged.

In a document received from the source, the national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, Godfrey S Lebeya instructed Mkhwebane to provide a warning statement to Colonel SJ Mojela. The individual from the president’s office sought to put pressure on the police to arrest Mkhwebane before January 13.

The plan to arrest Mkhwebane dates back to June when the Hawks first demanded a warning statement from her for the allegation of perjury and defeating the ends of justice.

The case against the public protector was laid by advocate Paul Hoffman in August. Hoffman, who heads a nongovernmental organisation, Accountability Now, laid charges after the Constitutional Court dismissed Mkhwebane’s Absa bailout investigation.

The matter against Mkhwebane is pegged on her investigation of the 1991 Absa bailout.

Mkhwebane, who has often criticised government and the South African Reserve Bank for failing to recover more than R1 billion from Bankorp Limited/ Absa Bank advanced as an “illegal gift” to the Bankorp group, probed the allegations that Ciex, a covert UK-based asset recovery agency headed by Michael Oatley, was contracted by the government to assist in investigating and recovering public funds and assets committed during the apartheid regime.

The government, then under Thabo Mbeki’s presidency, failed to implement the Ciex report.

Ciex was paid £600 000 (about R12.07 million) for services which were never used by government.

The source has also revealed that if Mkhwebane was criminally charged she would be suspended by Ramaphosa.

“If she comes to make the warning statement, we will arrest her. We’ve been sitting on this matter since March. She has not submitted the statement yet. Don’t mention our name in your story,” the source said.

Colonel Mojela, who was set to receive Mkhwebane’s statement, has not responded to Independent Media’s calls.

It’s believed Ramaphosa and his backers may want Mkhwebane to be relieved of her duties before the investigation into the Zimbabwe trip is complete or the findings are released.

In Parliament, the panel assessing the motion to remove her from office has been granted more time.

“Following the announcement by Speaker Thandi Modise on the establishment of the independent panel to conduct a preliminary assessment of the motion for the removal of the Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office, the panel held its first meeting on Wednesday, December 2,” parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.

The panel, comprising former Constitutional Court Justice Bess Nkabinde, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza and advocate Johan De Waal, had asked the Speaker for a 30-day extension.

The public protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said: “The PP is only aware of a request for a warning statement, which was made in January 2020, to which she responded indicating that it was not compulsory and that she would exercise her right to not make such a statement.

“She has not been contacted about any other. The public protector has no comment on the suggestion regarding the source of the alleged ‘order’ for her arrest. The only investigation before the public protector involving the president relates to his role in the Minister of Defence (Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) and ANC official trip to Zimbabwe on a state aircraft. It stems from a complaint by the African Transformation Movement, a political party represented in Parliament,” he said.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Tyrone Seale had not respond to questions by the time of publication.

The Star