/ 13 June 2023

Mkhwebane releases audio she claims validates R600 000 bribe allegation

Mkhwebane Sticks To Her Guns On Zuma’s Tax Records
Suspended Public Protector Busisiswe Mkhwebane. (Oupa Nkosi)

Suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Tuesday released voice recordings she claimed supported her allegations of corruption against three parliamentary officials, including ANC official Tina Joemat-Pettersson, despite parliament’s ethics committee imploring her not to. 

At a media briefing, Mkhwebane said the recordings were evidence that Joemat-Pettersson agreed to a R600 000 bribe to halt the ongoing inquiry against her.  The former agriculture and energy minister and ANC national executive committee member died last week, on 5 June.

Mkhwebane said all  three arms of the state — the legislature, the executive and judiciary — had played an indirect or direct role in the death of Joemat-Pettersson. The suspended public protector, who faces a section 194 inquiry to determine her fitness to hold office, claimed Joemat-Pettersson approached her husband, David Skosana, after asking a parliamentary official for his phone number on 16 March. 

According to Mkhwebane, Joemat-Pettersson invited Skosana to two separate meetings at a restaurant at OR Tambo International Airport during which she solicited a bribe for herself, ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina and chairperson of the inquiry committee, Richard Dyantyi. 

“My husband pretended to play along and even negotiated the price to be set at R150 000 instead of R200 000 each,” Mkhwebane said, adding that there would have been another meeting, but “the deal went sour”.

She said she was in possession of more evidence, including more than 90 WhatsApp messages between Skosana and Joemat-Pettersson “for the period between the middle and the end of March 2023”. Mkhwebane said she had handed in all the evidence to the police and that it was under investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks). 

She further alleged that “a chilling last word uttered and contained in the voice recording” was that of Joemat-Pettersson who remarked “the courts are with (President Cyril) Ramaphosa”. This was apparently in response to Skosana complaining about prolonged judicial proceedings.

“She repeated this chilling statement twice. It is this remark which should be of concern to all South Africans stated by an elected representative of the people from the ruling party”, Mkhwebane said on Tuesday.

The suspended public protector wants Dyantyi to recuse himself from the inquiry and has threatened that, should he fail to do so, she will proceed to court to force his recusal.

Parliament “implored” Mkhwebane last week to “afford the committee an opportunity to conduct its investigation and desist from continuing to vilify the speaker and others through the media”.