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Ramaphosa mum on Phala Phala in affidavit fending off Mkhwebane’s bid to reverse removal

  • Ramaphosa said he sent the letter suspending Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane before he knew the court would deliver judgment on her interdict application the following day.
  • He opposes Mkhwebane’s application to overturn her suspension, denying that the Office of the Public Protector’s investigation into Phala Phala had anything to do with her removal.
  • He refuses to divulge any information on the Phala Phala allegations in his affidavit.

President Cyril Ramaphosa refuses to divulge any details about the alleged cover-up of the burglary at his Limpopo game farm Phala Phala in court papers responding to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s challenge to her suspension.

Ramaphosa said he sent his letter to suspend Mkhwebane 11 minutes before he learned the Western Cape High Court would deliver its judgment on her application to interdict such a move the following day.

He denies that the investigation into Phala Phala had anything to do with suspending Mkhwebane, who the previous day announced she would be investigating the matter. But, true to form, Ramaphosa refused to divulge any details about the incident in his answering affidavit to Mkhwebane’s court application seeking to overturn her suspension and have the suspension and parliamentary impeachment process declared illegal.

Ramaphosa also disputes that there is a conflict of interest in suspending her and says he was within constitutional bounds when he suspended her.

On what proved to be a dramatic day, Ramaphosa suspended Mkhwebane on 9 June, the same day his Presidency budget vote took place amid the EFF’s attempts to prevent him from speaking and their violent removal.

This was Ramaphosa’s first appearance in the National Assembly after former director-general at the State Security Agency and former commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser opened a kidnapping and money laundering case against him, Presidential Protection Unit head Major-General Wally Rhoode and Crime Intelligence for allegedly concealing a burglary at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in February 2020.

Ramaphosa’s timing was questioned, as the following day, the Western Cape High Court ruled against Mkhwebane in her application to interdict Ramaphosa from suspending her and Parliament continuing with her impeachment process.

President Cyril Ramaphosa remained tight-lipped on the details of the robbery at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo. He told journalists following his reply to the Presidency budget vote speech that he will wait for “due process” to be completed before replying to any media enquiries.

This application was pending a second part to her application, in which she asks the court to declare unconstitutional and invalid the letter National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula sent to Ramaphosa to inform him that the impeachment process was underway, as well as Ramaphosa’s steps to suspend her and the Section 194 process.

She has since approached the court to ask that it hears this application on an urgent basis and amended the application to ask the court to declare her suspension unconstitutional, irrational and invalid.

In his responding affidavit, Ramaphosa disputes that the matter is urgent and that Mkhwebane’s proposed timeframes for the court matter are “unreasonable” as he has a busy schedule.

He says Mkhwebane wants the court to overturn her suspension on the same grounds that she advanced for the interdict, which was dismissed by the court.

Ramaphosa says she is now seeking “a second bite of the proverbial cherry”.

However, she does add investigations into Ramaphosa regarding Glencore and the alleged cover-up of the Phala Phala burglary.

“I am not aware of any investigation that has been commenced by the Office of the Public Protector against me in relation to Glencore,” reads Ramaphosa’s affidavit.

EFF leader Julius Malema on Tuesday made a string of allegations against president Cyril Ramaphosa, accusing him of money laundering and tax evasion because of the large amount of money that had been stored at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo. The EFF wants Ramaphosa to step aside while the police investigate the criminal case opened against him. The party…

He said he had an interest in Shanduka Resources, which held shares and was a shareholding partner of Glencore.

He says he divested from Shanduka in 2014 and never held any Glencore shares. Furthermore, the allegations of corruption and bribery aren’t against Glencore South Africa.

“Consequently, there is no basis for the alleged conflict of interest in respect of the Glencore issue,” Ramaphosa’s affidavit reads.

Regarding Phala Phala, Ramaphosa said:

First, I do not answer to the substance of the allegations in this affidavit. I do not do so because there are already pending investigations underway in respect of which, I describe below, I have given my full cooperation.

Ramaphosa states he received correspondence from Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka, who has been acting Public Protector since Mkhwebane’s suspension, that the investigation is continuing. He said he would submit his response to Gcaleka’s questions to the court. After Gcaleka granted him an extension, his answers are due at the Office of the Public Protector on 18 July. 

“Advocate Mkhwebane places no facts before that court that demonstrate even on a prima facie basis that her suspension has impeded the investigation in any manner whatsoever or has in any way affected the investigation negatively or resulted in the Acting Public Protector being unable to fulfil her obligations in respect of the investigation.”

Ramaphosa said there was no basis for the contention that he suspended Mkhwebane in retaliation for the Phala Phala investigation. He said the wheels were in motion for her suspension long before her investigation started.

In his affidavit, Ramaphosa recalled the correspondence between himself and Mkwhebane in the run-up to her suspension, which started in March.

Ramaphosa said it was not correct that all parties to the interdict application were informed at 11:35 on 9 June that the judgment would be handed down the following day.

His legal counsel only received an email in this regard at15:34, and this email was sent to his office at 15:46.

“My letter of suspension was sent to Advocate Mkhwebane by my office at 15:34…” reads Ramaphosa’s affidavit.

“By the time that the court notification came to my attention, I has already taken my decision and signed the suspension letter which had been sent to Advocate Mkhwebane.”

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is seen during

Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Gallo Images Tebogo Letsie, Gallo Images, City Press

Ramaphosa said a revised draft of the letter was sent to him the previous evening, and the letter was finalised the morning of 9 June.

He said he signed the letter then and immediately boarded a flight to Cape Town to deliver the Presidency Budget Vote speech.

It was only after his address, which was delayed by the EFF’s antics that Ramaphosa became aware of the court’s notification.

“By that stage, my decision on Advocate Mkhwebane’s suspension has been taken and my letter had been transmitted to Advocate Mkhwebane.”

Ramaphosa denies he “sought to violate the dignity of Advocate Mkhwebane or to humiliate her”.

“I did no more than lawfully exercise my suspension powers in terms of Section 194(3)(a) of the Constitution.”   

The matter will be heard on 26 and 27 July. Mkhwebane’s impeachment hearings will commence on 11 July.

–Media24

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