Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has rubbished claims that she was never formally asked to look into allegations of money laundering regarding President Cyril Ramaphosa and donations made to his 2017 presidential campaign by Bosasa's (now African Global Operations) CEO Gavin Watson amounting to R500 000.
In a statement released on Monday, Oupa Segalwe, spokesperson for the Public Protector, said: "Mkhwebane is dumbfounded at emerging claims by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the CR17 campaign managers that she was never asked to investigate allegations of money laundering in relation to the African Global Operations donation to President Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign for governing party presidency."
Segalwe added that they had met with DA leader Mmusi Maimane on two occasions, where the scope of Mkhwebane's investigation was discussed.
"Not once did Mr Maimane raise any of these emerging issues," he said.
The Public Protector was responding to a Business Day article published on Monday, saying the DA had "sought to distance itself from responsibility for the Public Protector's investigation into whether President Cyril Ramaphosa's election campaign funding were embroiled in money laundering".
DA communications head Graham Charters reportedly told Business Day that Maimane's initial complaint did not include an accusation of money laundering.
Charters is quoted as saying: "We were informed by the PP during our meeting in April 2019 that the scope of the investigation had widened to include money laundering."
Maimane also hit out at Business Day on Monday. In a statement, he said the headline, "DA denies raising laundering issue", was misleading and sought to distort the truth as it pertains to the Public Protector's investigation into Ramaphosa's relationship with Bosasa.
He released his original complaint to the Public Protector's office to clarify what his complaint had entailed. He highlighted the reference to money laundering.
'Suspicion of money laundering was raised with Public Protector'
"The nature of the payment, passing through several intermediaries, does not accord with a straightforward donation and raises the suspicion of money laundering. The alleged donor is further widely reported to have received billions of rands in state tenders, often in irregular fashion," his complaint reads.
"At no stage has the DA distanced itself from this investigation or the contents thereof. Rather, we have been explicitly clear in our call for the matter to be finalised, and for Parliament to establish an ad hoc committee to consider the report and its findings - as it did with the Nkandla report."
He added that, "from the very outset, the suspicion of money laundering was raised with the Public Protector".
Maimane said, while his complaint focused on Ramaphosa's "misleading of the House and his conflict of interest with Bosasa", the donation also raised suspicions.
He added that, at the aforementioned meeting, they had also discussed why the complaint was taking so long to investigate. Mkhwebane said this was because "it became apparent during the process of investigating the matter that the nature and extent of the relationship between the Ramaphosas and Bosasa ran much deeper than initially thought".
"The Public Protector decided to significantly widen the ambit of the investigation to include other issues uncovered during the investigation - including possible financial irregularities - which she is legally entitled to do. This is public knowledge," he added.