The Herald (South Africa)

Public protector erred in finding on meeting, says Van Rooyen


COOPERATIV­E Governance and Traditiona­l Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen yesterday refuted a finding by the public protector that he had lied to parliament about visiting the Gupta’s compound in Saxonwold‚ Johannesbu­rg. He heard of it through the media. Van Rooyen was asked in parliament in 2016 if‚ since taking office‚ he had ever met any member of the Guptas.

In his reply he said: “The minister and his deputy ministers have never met with members‚ employees and/or close associates of the Gupta family in their official capacities.”

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found last week that Van Rooyen had deliberate­ly misled MPs – and, in doing so, had violated the Executive Ethics Act and the constituti­on.

But Van Rooyen’s department yesterday quoted him as saying: “It is concerning that I heard this rumour of a report through the media, which was supposedly published on Friday, and was never forwarded to me.”

Van Rooyen said he had emphasised the distinctio­n‚ when answering the question‚ between his capacity as a minister and as a treasurer-general of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Associatio­n. It was in this capacity that he had met the Guptas.

It was disappoint­ing that the public protector had erred in the report, he was quoted as saying.

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