South Africa: DA Describes Report On Mkhwebane-Gupta-Link As 'Unfair Sensationalism'

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (file photo).

The DA has described as "unfair sensationalism" a report by a global anti-corruption journalism organisation that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane received a $5 000 (roughly R70 000) payment linked to a broader network involving the Guptas in 2014.

The OCCRP reported on Tuesday that the payment was flagged by multi-national bank HSBC as part of the bank's broader internal investigation into Gupta-linked entities.

The DA's Glynnis Breytenbach told News24 on Wednesday that there was no evidence that the money came from the Guptas.

"The Democratic Alliance's view is simply that there is insufficient information here to make the quantum leap that there is any connection to the Guptas," Breytenbach said.

"If the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has information that they believe is suspicious then they must make it available to the police for investigation and whatever emanates from that, emanates from that.

"But at the moment, there is no suggestion that there is a Gupta link. I think it is a sensationalised report to suggest that there is a Gupta link," she said.

She said while the DA does not support Mkhwebane and wants her removed from office, it believes in the principle of being innocent until proven guilty.

"There is really nothing to suggest that there is a link between her and the Guptas. It is unfair sensationalism. If something transpires after a proper investigation, then that is a different matter."

Meanwhile, the ANC said it would not be drawn into commenting on the report, saying Mkhwebane had already commented on it.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the Office of the Public Protector should be allowed to continue to do its work.

News24 earlier reported that there was no indication of wrongdoing on Mkhwebane's part, but that the payment was part of thousands of transactions the bank noticed as part of a broader investigation into kickbacks from China North Rail (CNR), that was awarded large tranches of the infamous R50bn locomotive deal by Transnet.

In her statement, Mkhwebane slammed the report, saying the story was part of a series of events that were an orchestrated campaign and concerted effort 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".

According to the OCCRP report, the funds were paid from an account of an HSBC subsidiary in Hong Kong directly into Mkhwebane's First National Bank account in South Africa in June 2014 at the height of the Gupta's state capture reign

Source: News24

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