Criminal investigations into cases of state capture are being systematically delayed with the result that the evidence trail could go cold and make eventual prosecutions much more difficult, believes former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
“The Hawks and the NPA don’t need to be told how to do their job. If they wanted to, by now they would have long obtained cellphone records, bank records, travel itineraries, computers and files from offices of implicated persons,” Madonsela exclusively told The Citizen.
“There appears to be a reluctance to investigate, decisively. What I know for sure is that cellphone records are eventually discarded and triangulation is impossible after a particular period. I wonder if the delay is deliberately seeking to achieve that?
“Every day we lose without gathering relevant evidence makes a case a colder case. It’s hard, and most of the time impossible, to crack a cold case.”
Her comments come amid a volley of reports, e-mail leaks and testimonies implicating government officials, state-owned entities, the duplicitous Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma in orchestrating state capture.
Prior to these being made public, Madonsela, at the 11th hour in her end of term in office last year, released a startling report into the issue, aptly entitled State of Capture.
She has called for a judicial inquiry into state capture which President Jacob Zuma has delayed through a court challenge. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, however, recently moved to indicate that prosecutions need not wait for the inquiry to be completed.
Parliament’s own inquiry into state capture at Eskom has also heard shocking testimony from the state-owned entities’ former senior employees, who placed the Guptas, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Zuma in direct collusion with each other.
State capture, which is said to have cost the country billions in public funds, has further pushed civil society organisations to collaborate in tackling a valid issue which it says must eventually lead to Zuma’s sacking and all those involved being criminally charged. Investigative authorities, however, have been dragging their feet in doing so.
“Corruption is a crime,” Madonsela said.
“The state capture investigation is about grand corruption. Like all criminal matters, the matter is, two years down the line, becoming a cold case. I say two years because the material date is the removal of Nhlanhla Nene as minister of finance and his replacement with Des van Rooyen,” she charged.
“The testimonies present a thread of evidence that strengthens the prima facie evidence that President Zuma has unconstitutionally, unlawfully and possibly corruptly shared his presidential power with the Guptas and his son, who have leveraged and abused that power to instigate or influence the removal and appointment of persons into strategic positions in state entities.
“While the implicated persons keep denying … the evidence against them is overwhelming. The witnesses speak about his presence in meetings or places where meetings took place with the Guptas, who were meddling in state affairs.
“What must now happen is implicated persons should be compelled by parliament to submit their bank statements and cellphone records corresponding with the material dates or periods, together with their travel itineraries,” Madonsela said.
“The bank statements should also include those of wives and family foundations. They must also be compelled by parliament to agree to triangulation of their cellphone locations.”
Read more about Madonsela’s hard-hitting comments on former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe in The Citizen on Monday.