Mkhwebane acted with 'reckless disregard' in finding on Ramaphosa's campaign donation from Bosasa - lawyer

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Image: MIKE HUTCHINGS

Advocate Wim Trengove has accused public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane of misreading the law and acting with "reckless disregard" when she found that President Cyril Ramaphosa had misled parliament. 

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria is hearing Ramaphosa’s legal application for a judicial review of Mkhwebane’s report on the R500,000 donation made by the late CEO of Bosasa, Gavin Watson, to Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign to become ANC president. 

Mkhwebane found in July last year that Ramaphosa “deliberately” misled parliament about a donation made to his CR17 campaign. 

She also found that there was “merit” to suspicions that the way the money was paid amounted to money-laundering.

Trengove argued on behalf of Ramaphosa said Mkhwebane shouldn't have found the president guilty of deliberately misleading parliament because he had acted with "admirable integrity and honesty" when dealing with the question about the donation asked by former DA leader Mmusi Maimane in parliament. 

Trengove accused Mkhwebane of making "an extraordinary mistake of law".

"There's no evidence that the president deliberately misled parliament... it's hard to understand how can a lawyer misread the text of law," Trengove argued. 

Ramaphosa had initially told parliament that the money was paid to his son for work done for Bosasa. However, he later wrote to the speaker of parliament to correct himself, apparently upon realising that the money had been paid into an account linked to his CR17 campaign. 

Trengove also accused Mkhwebane of misunderstanding that money-laundering was a crime meant to hide the proceeds of crime.

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