South Africa’s public protector advocate
Busisiwe Mkhwebane is facing yet another damning allegation against her character, after a report from the HSBC bank flagged a $5 000 (R70 000) payment she received from an account linked to the Guptas.
As the architects of state capture, the Gupta brothers saw many of their bank accounts in South Africa closed last year. However, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) went back as far as June 2014 to dig up this nugget of information, which will be music to the ears of Cyril Ramaphosa – the president is facing the PP in court on Thursday.
The transaction itself is said to have come from an offshore company that laundered payments structured as kickbacks from a Chinese rail company, in a deal that involved known Gupta associates. The OCCRP found that a sizeable chunk of money had passed from there to Mkhwebane’s FNB account five years ago.
However, through her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe – who has been a very busy bee over the last couple of weeks – Busisiwe Mkhwebane has officially denied any link to the Guptas whatsoever. Her office dismissed the link as part of a ‘conspiracy’ orchestrated by those ‘who want to protect the powerful’
“Advocate Mkhwebane sees all of these events as part of an orchestrated campaign and concerted efforts in political circles, civil society and the media to discredit her merely because she has been able to muster enough courage to hold those seen as ‘untouchable’ to account.”
“It is strange that today, the organisation reports that she was ‘flagged’ as having financial ties to the Guptas. [Mkhwebane] will not be discouraged from performing her duties with renewed vigour, without fear, favour or prejudice”.
Spokesperson for the Public Protector, Oupa Segalwe
As the report states, the payment to Busisiwe Mkhwebane was made a day before she left her work at the South African embassy in China and came back to fulfil a role at Home Affairs. The allegedly-dodgy deal is more fuel to the fire for her detractors, who have plenty more where that came from.
Mkhwebane simply cannot afford to lose Thursday’s courtroom showdown with Cyril Ramaphosa. She’s already suffered embarrassing defeats in the dock against ConCourt and Pravin Gordhan this month, and a hat-trick of losses would undermine her authority in office no end.