Ramaphosa asks high court to keep certain CR17 information secret

Image credit: Facebook/The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa wants the Pretoria High Court to keep some information about his CR17 campaign sealed from the public.

The president’s lawyers, Harris, Nupen and Molebatsi Attorneys, made this request in a letter sent on Thursday.

Our client has instructed us to request that certain information contained in the record of the Public Protector be sealed and not be disclosed to the public.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers

Peter Harris, who signed the letter, said the information relates to bank statements of EFG2, Ria Tenda Trust, Linked Environmental Services and Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.

He said the details contained in these accounts are private transactions that belong to private entities. They are therefore “strictly confidential.”

Harris further said they have reason to believe that some of that information may have been obtained “illegally” by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

He noted that while Mkwebane makes mention of a subpoena to Absa, the bank publicly denied ever receiving such a subpoena.

Harris further questioned how Mkhwebane obtained Ria Tenda’s bank records when she never referred to a subpoena to Standard Bank in her report.

He demanded that in the event it’s established that the records were obtained “unlawfully,” they should be kept sealed.

The use of unlawfully obtained information would also be an abuse of the Public Protector’s office and in particular, her obligation to act impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers

Harris repeated Ramaphosa’s defence that Mkhwebane unlawfully extended the scope of her investigation from the original complaint relating to the R500,000 Gavin Watson donation.

He further requested that court to keep information obtained from an anonymous whistleblower sealed from the public.

Mkhwebane made mention of this whistleblower in her report, but did not rely on their evidence, according to Harris.

Harris also said Ramaphosa has reason to believe that the recently leaked emails, which Mkhwebane referenced in her report, were obtained illegally by her.

The matter relates to Mkhwebane’s report into whether Ramaphosa misled Parliament about a R500,000 donation by Bosasa ex-CEO Gavin Watson into his campaign.

Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa “deliberately and/or inadvertently” misled Parliament and exposed himself to a risk of conflict of interest.

She also found that Ramaphosa’s failure to declare CR17 donations was a violation of the Executive Ethics Code.

The President has since indicated that he’s taking the report on review to set it aside.

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