Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has filed a motion with the Eastern Cape high court in Bhisho asking that the court order the Hawks to stop investigating him, calling the probe unconstitutional, unlawful and a political witch hunt that is being influenced by suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.
The application was filed on 14 September, with the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI, known as the Hawks) cited as the first respondent and the police minister as the second.
In his founding affidavit, Mabuyane questioned why the Hawks in the Free State, and not the specialised unit’s Eastern Cape branch, were investigating him for money laundering, fraud and corruption.
Magashule is the former premier of the Free State. He and 15 co-accused are facing multiple charges of fraud, theft, corruption and money-laundering relating to a R255-million Free State contract for replacing asbestos roofs.
“There are no reasons the investigation should be driven from the Free State rather than the Eastern Cape, where the alleged offences are said to have emanated from. I have been informed by a confidential source, whom I have no reason to disbelieve, that certain political elements within the ANC who are opposed to my leadership are behind the investigation and have tried to influence the DPCI.
“The second purpose of this application is to compel the DPCI to provide me with information that I reasonably need in order to answer certain questions that have been addressed to me. The DPCI appears to take the attitude that since I am not an accused person I am not entitled to such information. This is the wrong attitude. I have already been characterised by the DPCI as a suspect, bearing in mind that I am a suspect presumably suspected of having committed crimes I’m entitled to know the basis of which it is suggested.”
Mabuyane says he created enemies in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) when he and the Eastern Cape provincial executive committee (PEC) openly called for Magashule and others to step aside because they face charges.
Mabuyane argues that because he is an ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Magashule was waging a counter-campaign against him.
Mabuyane alleges that the investigation against him followed Magashule’s interview with the SABC where the suspended ANC leader made claims against him.
Mabuyane said he had his first meeting with the Free State Hawks on 4 August, when he was told he was being investigated for money laundering, corruption and fraud.
The Hawks officials were seeking a warning statement from him, he said.
The investigation is related to a vehicle purchase and renovations to his home in the Eastern Cape.
“I indicated that it was not a coincidence that the case was being investigated by the DPCI Free State office after Mr Magashule, who was the premier of the Free State, had made allegations against me.”
Last week, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released a report that found the Eastern Cape government, working with the Mbizana local municipality, misused R3.3-million allocated for the memorial service and other celebratory events to honour Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in April 2018.
According to the report, Mabuyane renovated his private residence with some of the money.
The public protector’s report found that Mabuyane, who was the provincial head of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism at the time, together with MECs Weziwe Tikana and Babalo Madikizela “improperly benefited from the misuse of public funds”.
Mabuyane further argues in his affidavit that it was known there was a loan agreement between him and Madikizela in their personal capacities, meant for renovations to his home. He also contends that he purchased a vehicle that was donated to the ANC, which he used during his tenure as provincial secretary after his term ended.
He says the Hawks hold enormous power, and that should he be charged, he faces a material risk of being subjected to the ANC’s step-aside rule. The Hawks would be aware of this, he contends, and were using this knowledge as a “pressure point to unlawfully extract information from me for its ulterior reasons”.
Mabuyane argues that the Hawks have labelled him a suspect, which affords him the right to be provided with a factual basis about why he is being investigated.
“They know that if the information is disclosed [the investigation] would be abandoned. It is clear that this is a fishing expedition … Even if as a suspect I’m not entitled to the full scope of section 35 rights, I’m entitled to rational and reasonable conduct. I should be informed of the factual justification for the conclusion that I am [a] suspect.”
Mabuyane, who is the ANC provincial chairperson, adds that it would be too late to inform him of evidence against him after he has been arrested and charged.
“Should I be charged I would be required to step aside. The DPCI is aware of this. Therefore its decision to persist with a completely baseless case against me knowing that a judge would require me to step aside is a flagrant abuse of power and engineered to secure a political outcome. This abuse should not be tolerated by the court and should be brought to an end with immediate effect.”