Home South African New public protector to defend Phala Phala report in court

New public protector to defend Phala Phala report in court

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Newly-appointed Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka will oppose the Hola Bon Renaissance Foundation’s bid to overturn her report exonerating President Cyril Ramaphosa in the matter of the 2020 theft of undeclared US dollars at his Limpopo farm.

Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka is opposing legal action to have her Phala Phala report overturned. File picture

NEWLY-appointed Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka will oppose the Hola Bon Renaissance (HBR) Foundation’s bid to overturn her report exonerating President Cyril Ramaphosa in the matter of the 2020 theft of undeclared US dollars at his Limpopo farm.

After weeks of bickering, Gcaleka filed her notice of intention to oppose the legal action launched by the foundation soon after she released her Phala Phala report in June.

This week, it emerged that Gcaleka filed her notice of intention to oppose the matter on September 5 through her lawyers, Moeti Kanyane Incorporated.

Non-profit organisation HBR Foundation and the African Transformation Movement have asked the North Gauteng High Court to review and set aside Gcaleka’s report on her investigation into allegations of violation of the executive ethics code against Ramaphosa.

In the HBR Foundation’s court papers, it argues that Gcaleka’s report should be overturned because, among others, the theft of US dollars from Ramaphosa’s private farm did not constitute state affairs or public administration.

”The first respondent’s (Gcaleka’s) report is of high significance. Her report stands in stark conflict with the findings of the section 89 report. But for the first respondent’s report, the president would be investigated criminally. The first respondent’s report is now affording the president a shield against criminal prosecution,” argued the HBR Foundation.

The section 89 panel chaired by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo found that Ramaphosa had a prima facie case to answer and that he contravened sections of the Constitution.

According to the foundation, Gcaleka’s failure to have regard for the section 89 panel report before making her findings amounted to a misdirection and her failure to deal with the phrase “paid work” as dealt with by the section 89 panel was another misdirection.

Gcaleka cleared the president of allegations of violating the executive ethics code and abuse of power by utilising the police’s presidential protection service to investigate housebreaking and theft of $580,000 (about R8.8 million at the time the money was stolen), which was proceeds of the purchase of buffalo at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo in February 2020.

The Sunday Independent reported last month that they agreed to postpone its urgent application to overturn Gcaleka’s report exonerating at the North Gauteng High Court in a bid to review and set aside her report released in June.

The foundation’s lawyers, Zehir Omar Attorneys, told legal representatives of parties involved in the matter that Gcaleka’s legal team had agreed to remove the matter from the urgent roll ahead of the scheduled October 17 hearing.

Gcaleka has fiercely defended her Phala Phala report, citing another report by the SA Reserve Bank which found that there was no concluded sale between the buyer and the seller.

”Our report and our investigation did not investigate the sale, because we do not have the powers to do so. It is a private matter that does not fall within the ambit of the Public Protector,” she explained during her interview in August for the position to which Ramaphosa permanently appointed her this week.

She continued: “Yes, I stand by it because we did not say it is a sale. We did not confirm there was a legal sale, which took place. We worked on what was before us.”

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