The Pretoria high court on Tuesday (20 July) dismissed the EFF’s application to unseal the controversial CR17 bank statements with costs.
The bank statements, some of which were leaked in 2018, relate to funding for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to become ANC President in 2017.
Judge J. Sardiwalla ruled that he was unable to “identify any right” on the part of the EFF or in the interests of justice to warrant the unsealing of the statements.
“I can find no compelling reasons why the material should be disclosed to the public at large,” Judge Sardiwalla explained.
“The applicant [EFF] has not advanced any public or private good that will be served by public disclosure as against the personal dangers in which parties of the CR 17 campaign concerned and their activities will be placed.”
Public Protector probe
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane obtained the statements from banks during her investigation on whether or not Ramaphosa had misled Parliament regarding a donation from the late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.
The President reviewed Mkhwebane’s report after she made adverse findings against him. The Constitutional Court ultimately upheld a high court ruling setting aside the report earlier this month.
Following a request from Ramaphosa’s legal team, Gauteng high court Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba agreed to seal the bank statements when the matter was still at high court level in 2019.
EFF launched an application this year to unseal the records, arguing that it was in the public interest to know who funded Ramaphosa’s campaign to guard against conflict of interest.
The CR17 campaign however opposed it, citing privacy rights because the statements contained confidential information of third parties.
Malema ‘disappointed’ by ruling
Reacting to the ruling, EFF leader Julius Malema said he was disappointed. “What happened to public interest? Our Courts, to say I’m disappointed, is an understatement,” he tweeted.
EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu added, “It’s becoming a very dangerous country for those who legitimately and legally challenge establishment.
“They’re doing everything in their power to keep hold on to power. There are untouchables in this country and their use their economic strength to protect their political power.”
In a statement later on Tuesday, the EFF said it will approach the Constitutional Court directly to appeal the ruling.