Public Protector’s Vrede Report: Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane must face prosecution

Today’s decision by the North Gauteng High Court to set aside Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report into the Vrede Dairy Project is a victory in the fight against corruption, and we are now one step closer in seeking justice for the more than 100 intended beneficiaries of this sham empowerment scheme.

When I met with these intended beneficiaries in Vrede almost two years ago, I undertook to fight this matter on all fronts. The DA laid the initial complaint with the Public Protector, and following the release of her report we held the view that the report was a “whitewash” as it failed to hold to account those responsible for the theft of almost R200 million of public money. Today, the North Gauteng High Court has vindicated our view, as it held this report to be unconstitutional and invalid.

Instead of empowering those who are left out of the economy, over 100 black South Africans were used as a front for a calculated scheme of grand corruption and money laundering to benefit the Guptas and their friends in the ANC. Between the Guptas and the ANC, economic opportunity was stolen from black South Africans. This is a crime of the most reprehensible nature, and those responsible must face the full might of the law.

In July 2017, the DA laid criminal charges against those implicated in this act of corruption. These charges include money laundering, racketeering, assisting another to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful activities, and acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act 121 of 1998. A month later I hand delivered a legal indictment containing over 200 pages of prima facie evidence of these crimes to the Hawks.

I will now urgently seek an update from National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shamila Batohi, as to progress on this investigation. It is high time that the criminal justice system does its job. It’s been almost one and a half years since Cyril Ramaphosa became President and vowed to fight corruption. Yet today, not a single person implicated in corruption has been held accountable and put behind bars. Instead, the chief architects of corruption – like Ace Magashule, Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane and Mosebenzi Zwane – remain in charge and occupy ANC benches in Parliament.

We believe that this is a clear-cut example of money laundering and corruption. The charges have been laid, the evidence is clear and overwhelming, and now all that’s left to do is move forward with prosecution. It is unacceptable that the perpetrators of this crime have yet to be charged, and as such, this indictment serves to speed up the wheels of justice to ensure that those who stole the people’s money are prosecuted, and if found guilty by a court of law – are put behind bars.

The Public Protector seems hellbent on wasting precious funds on spurious litigation. In fact, a disproportionate amount of Adv Mkhwebane’s budget has been wasted on unsuccessful litigation when this money ought to be spent on protecting the interests the people of South Africa and holding the powerful to account. We urge her to accept this judgment and to go back to the drawing board. Her job is to protect the public, which includes the over 100 victims of the Vrede Dairy Project.

Later this week the 6th Democratic Parliament of South Africa will be sworn in. The DA – as the official opposition – will work harder than ever before to hold government to account, and to expose corruption wherever it rears its ugly head.