Thursday, 04 August 2022 21:23

Public Protector office calls for patience on its investigation into Phala Phala saga.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Office of the Public Protector calls for patience in the ongoing investigation of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Phala Phala robbery.

This follows growing calls on the institution to publicise Ramaphosa's answers to the 31 questions sent by the institution.

Ramaphosa submitted written answers to the Public Protector's office over the Phala Phala farm robbery last month following a threat of a subpoena after failing to meet his initial deadline.

Later in the month, the Public Protector's office confirmed Ramaphosa had indeed submitted his answers, but said they would be kept confidential to avoid compromising the ongoing investigation.

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's lawyer advocate Dali Mpofu is one of the parties that called for Ramaphosa's 31 answers to be made available to them.

On Wednesday, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), said a "forum of opposition parties" represented in Parliament met to discuss ways to strengthen their resolve to hold Ramaphosa accountable.

It said the group was opposed to the concealment of Ramaphosa's responses to the 31 questions sent by the Public Protector's office.

In a joint statement, the parties, including the DA, UDM and EFF, called on the Office of the Public Protector to urgently, "in line with the law", release the report regarding its Phala Phala investigation.

"The Constitution of the republic establishes the PPSA as an independent institution that is subject only to the Constitution and the law, and must be impartial and exercise its powers without fear, favour of prejudice,"said spokesperson Oupa Segalwe.

"Moreover, the Constitution prohibits any interference with the functioning of the institution. The PPSA, therefore, views the actions of those exerting pressure on the institution to publish the evidence in question while the investigation is underway as constituting the interference contemplated in the Constitution and calls upon them to desist from such conduct."

According to section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994, "… no person shall disclose to any other person the contents of any document in the possession of a member of the office of the Public Protector or the record of any evidence given before the Public Protector [or] a Deputy Public Protector… during an investigation …"

Ramaphosa is facing criminal charges emanating from allegations levelled against him by former spy boss Arthur Fraser. Fraser claimed the robbers stole money from Ramaphosa's farm in February 2020.