CAPE TOWN - Political interference is suspected to be the reason behind why the probe into alleged corruption against Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane is dragging on, according to a legal expert.
Mabuyane found himself under fire after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane made damning findings in her report, that he irregularly benefited from a R1.1 million tender for the memorial service of Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Mkhwebane ordered the Hawks to investigate allegations that Mabuyane received up to R450 000 in relation to the tender.
The money is alleged to have been used to renovate his house while he was MEC for economic development.
In her findings, Mkhwebane also found that Eastern Cape Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela and the provincial ANC itself benefited to the tune of R350 000 and R280 000 respectively, from the R1.1 million siphoned out of the coffers of the provincial government.
Late last year, the Hawks had initially said they had concluded the probe in March, having initially started in May 2019. However the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had said the investigations were still ongoing.
In a desperate move, Mabuyane had attempted to interdict the Hawks from investigating him, claiming that should he be charged, this would be a blow to his political career as he would be required to step-aside, as per the ANC’s resolution.
Mabuyane is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ally and his province helped him secure his first term as president.
The Eastern Cape has backed Ramaphosa for a second term.
Approached for comment this week, NPA spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani, said: "The matter was submitted by the Hawks to the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU) of the NPA for Prosecutor Guided Investigation (PGI). The Hawks did not submit it for DPP's decision but for PGI.
“PGI means that the investigation of a case is conducted through a prosecution-guided investigation methodology.The matter is still under investigation. The NPA does not give comment on matters relating to investigations. Kindly contact the Hawks for comment.“
Hawks national spokesperson, Thandi Mbambo, said: "The matter was submitted by the Hawks to SCCU for (PGI). The matter is still under investigation."
Legal expert, advocate Francois Botes SC said it seemed there was political interference in Mabuyane’s case and that should not be the case because SA citizens would lose their trust in the judiciary.
“The NPA is obliged to investigate a person in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act if there is a charge or a complaint against that person… and there is sufficient evidence.
“The NPA is duty bound to pursue the prosecution and uphold the rule of law. Everybody is equal in the eyes of the law and no one should be above the law. The NPA should execute its mandate without fear or favour,” Botes said.
Political analyst, Professor Sipho Seepe said: “There is a sense that those who are pro-Ramaphosa are shielded from prosecution. The matter involving Mabuyane is a case in point. The Hawks indicated that they have completed their investigation, all that is required is for NPA to make a determination to charge or not to charge. One would have expected that given that this has been an ongoing matter, the NPA would have come with a decision.
“The lack of urgency in this regard must be contrasted with the manner in which the NPA rushed to charge Duduzane (Zuma) when it was clear there it didn't have a case.This is selective prosecution which amounts to political persecution of political opponents.”