Cyril lays into Busi
President Cyril Ramaphosa, through his legal counsel, questioned Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s legal expertise, saying she ‘knows nothing about money laundering’ and used the wrong Act in her report on his campaign funding.
Mkhwebane comes under fire for her report on Cyril’s campaign donations.
‘She doesn’t even know what money laundering is.”
So said President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday, through his legal representative Wim Trengrove.
The judicial review of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s contentious CR17 report kicked off in the High Court in Pretoria.
The report was released in July and focused, in part, on a donation of R500 000 made by Gavin Watson – chief executive of the now defunct African Global Operations (AGO), formerly Bosasa – towards President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign for the ANC’s top spot. Watson died in August in a car crash.
In the report, Mkhwebane, a qualified advocate herself, found, among other things, there was “merit” in the suspicion of money laundering.
But Trengrove said yesterday: “There is no evidence of money laundering. At all. Nothing whatsoever.
“The essence of money laundering is the concealment of the proceeds of crime,” he told the court. “If one were to investigate whether there had been money laundering involved … you would have to look for two things. First, if this money constitutes the proceeds of crime and second, if anyone tried to conceal it.”
Trengrove also pointed out Mkhwebane had in her report and in relation to money laundering, quoted from the Corruption Act.
“She does not appreciate that money laundering is an offence created by section 4 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act,” he said.
The public protector turned her attention to Ramaphosa last year, after then DA leader Mmusi Maimane had presented parliament with documents which showed an amount of R500 000 had been deposited into an account belonging to Ramaphosa’s son.
The president initially claimed it was in lieu of work carried out by his son’s consultancy firm for AGO, but later confirmed this was not the case, saying he had not known this at the time he gave his first explanation.
In her report, Mkhwebane also found that all the donations to the CR17 campaign were “some form of sponsorship” of the president “and were therefore benefits of a material nature to President Ramaphosa”.
“President Ramaphosa, as a presidential candidate for the ANC political party, received campaign contributions which benefitted him in his personal capacity. He was therefore duty bound to declare such financial benefit accruing to him from the campaign pledges”.
But said Trengrove yesterday, the president had, in fact, put R37 million of his own money towards the campaign and had, if anything, been left out of pocket.
“He was also a very substantial donor to the campaign and never acquired any financial interest in the donations it received.”
Mkhwebane’s term has, to date, been riddled with controversy. She has been accused of political meddling, as well as maladministration, and has suffered a string of losses in the courts.
Last month, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise approved DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone’s motion for parliament to start the process of removing Mkhwebane from office.
The case continues.