- Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been accused of altering reports on the Estina dairy farm scandal to shield Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane
- Lawson Naidoo from the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) alleges Mkhwebane made fundamental changes to the reports made by her predecessor
- The allegations relate to the now infamous Estina dairy farm in the Free State which was looted by the Gupta family to the tune of R250 million
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been accused of altering reports by her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, on the Estina dairy farm scandal with the intention of shielding Ace Magashule, Mosebenzi Zwane and other politicians from being investigated in connection with fraud.
Mkhwebane allegedly fundamentally altered reports to prevent Magashule and Zwane from being investigated in their alleged role in the scandal which saw the Gupta family loot some R250 million from the Free State agriculture department.
Lawson Naidoo from the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) alleges Mkhwebane made fundamental changes to the reports made by her predecessor. Naidoo made the allegations in an affidavit which was filed in the Pretoria High Court last week.
Briefly.co.za gathered that Casac claims Mkhwebane used the altered, watered down reports to protect Magashule who was Premier of the Free State at the time, Zwane who was MEC for agriculture at the time, other officials and the Guptas and their associates.
Casac charges the Mkhwebane with the following:
• She ignored a report indicating the Guptas involvement and corrupt actions in the project;
• She misled Parliament when she claimed the report had been signed-off when she took office;
• Her office failed to investigate allegations made in 2013,2014 and 2016 that Magashule had been involved with the project
• She removed remedial action prescribed by Madonsela, which included referring the matter to Treasury, the Special Investigations Unit and the Auditor-General for further investigation;
• According to Naidoo, Mkhwebane instead recommended Magashule be put in charge of disciplinary proceedings against implicated officials;
• She removed Peter Thabethe, the then head of the Free State agriculture department, from the report and recommended he be placed in charge of training procurement officials.
• She prevented further investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption in the Free State agriculture department.
The allegations against Mkhwebane will be deal her already low credibility another severe blow. This latest scandal comes a week after she admitted to hiring intelligence agents for positions in her office.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson denied she had altered any reports and noted that Madonsela’s original report did not make mention of any politicians either.
Casac applied to the High Court to have Mkhwebane’s report on the entire scandal set aside.
Naidoo said Casac first made this request in February because in the organisation’s opinion Mkhwebane had acted irrationally, unlawfully and unreasonably when she failed to conduct a proper investigation into the scandal.
Naidoo added that since Mkhwebane filed her record of decision last month it became clear her failures were far more nefarious than merely being inept.
She not only failed to conduct a thorough investigation, but tried to prevent any further investigations, thereby protecting those implicated from being identified and possibly being prosecuted.
Casac noted the fundamental differences between Madonsela’s provisional report and Mkhwebane’s final report. This according to Casac points to Mkhwebane trying to protect Magashule and Zwane.
“Mkhwebane has always maintained that she cannot be blamed for the inadequacy of the report, because by the time she took office, the investigation into the Vrede Dairy Project was already at an advanced stage,” Naidoo said.
Casac noted that it was unconscionable that a constitutionally created anti-corruption position such as that of the Office of the Public Protector had turned a blind eye to the rampant fraud and corrupt activities in this matter.
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