Public Protector Concerned About Pressure Over Phala Phala Probe

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The Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) on Thursday raised concern about “undue political pressure and demands for evidence” to be made public regarding allegations of a violation of the Executive Code of Ethics against President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The allegations emanate from a complaint made to the police by former State Security Agency director-general, Arthur Fraser, in which he accused Ramphosa of breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act by not reporting a 2020 burglary at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

The President confirmed there was a robbery at his farm while he was away, but he denied any wrongdoing.

Last month, Prosecutions head Shamila Batohi and Justice minister Ronald Lamola said there was no cover-up from authorities about the theft of foreign currency at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm.

However, on Wednesday, opposition parties including the Economic Freedom Fighters, Democratic Alliance, United Democratic Movement, African Transformation Movement, Inkatha Freedom Party, National Freedom Party, African Transformation Movement and the African Christian Democratic Party met to consolidate and strengthen their commitment to hold Ramaphosa accountable.

The parties said the Speaker of Parliament failed to hold the President accountable.

They now want the Public Protector to make public Ramaphosa’s answers to queries regarding the alleged cover up of the robbery.

Refusing to bow to pressure, the PPSA on Thursday warned that the Constitution prohibits any interference with the functioning of the institution.

The PPSA said it “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”.

The institution would like to draw the attention of the public to section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994 which provides that: “… 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 …”