Home South African Acting Public Protector defends Ramaphosa’s extension to respond to Phala Phala questions

Acting Public Protector defends Ramaphosa’s extension to respond to Phala Phala questions

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Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka said her decision was based on a request from Ramaphosa’s lawyers and the amount of information required.

Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka. Picture: Supplied

ACTING Public Protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka has defended her decision to grant President Cyril Ramaphosa more time to respond to questions in the ongoing investigation into the Phala Phala Farmgate saga, where millions of undeclared dollars were stashed in his furniture.

Gcaleka said her decision was based on a request from Ramaphosa’s lawyers and the amount of information required.

The investigation was initiated by suspended Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who was removed by Ramaphosa two days after announcing she would investigate the president’s alleged involvement in breaking laws, kidnapping and bribing people not to disclose information about questionable activities at his farm.

Gcaleka said: “His motivation was deemed just cause … The common law principle of audi alteram partem must be applied to ensure we avert several court criticisms pointing at PPSA investigations which are not duly considered.”

Asked why she did not inform the public about the extension, Gcaleka said this was in accordance with legal prescripts on the PPSA’s handling of communication on ongoing investigations and communicating outcomes.

“For instance, the Constitutional Court has taken a dim view in one matter on the fact that the president asked for an extension of three weeks as the preliminary report addressed wide-ranging issues and he had other demands to attend to, but the Public Protector gave him only two weeks.

“It would therefore be a travesty of justice to make or confirm any adverse determination against anybody in circumstances where his or her version is unknown to the decision-maker.”

She reassured the public her office was conducting the investigation with integrity, was maintaining its independence and impartiality and that the outcomes of the probe would be based on facts and application of the law.

Asked whether there would be no undue influence from her sister Nonceba Gcaleka, a prominent ANC member and a close ally of Ramaphosa, the acting public protector said: “There are no interests related to this matter or any other matter that prevents her from taking decisions without fear, favour or prejudice.”

Gcaleka said all members of the public are entitled to state their case for extensions of deadlines and each case would be decided based on its merit.

On Friday last week, reports emerged that Ramaphosa had asked for an extension after he did not meet the June 22 deadline to answer 31 questions posed to him by Mkhwebane.

This angered ATM president Vuyo Zungula, who had asked the public protector to institute an investigation after former spy head Arthur Fraser laid a criminal charge against Ramaphosa over the theft of millions of dollars at his Phala Phala game farm two years ago.

The ATM alleged Gcaleka had entered into a “secret deal” with Ramaphosa and asked why the ATM, as the complainant, was not informed about it.

The EFF echoed the ATM’s sentiments, saying Ramaphosa was stalling the investigation.

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