The High Court in Pretoria deputy judge president, Aubrey Ledwaba, has sealed the banking records of donors to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s successful CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency.
Ramaphosa’s legal team approached the court and argued that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane obtained documents with financial information in them illegally.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe confirmed the decision following a meeting on Thursday morning between Judge Ledwaba and representatives of both the office of the public protector and the presidency.
The public will now not be able to access the financial records, which would usually be open to the public following their submission by Mkhwebane following Ramaphosa’s application for a judicial review of her report, which found the president had misled parliament over a R500,000 campaign donation from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.
On Wednesday, Mkhwebane’s legal team filed a record of the evidence she relied on in her report.
The evidence, filed under Rule 53, included the bank statements of the various entities involved in the campaign, as well as emails and correspondence that formed part of Mkhwebane’s probe.
Peter Harris, a lawyer representing Ramaphosa, said in a letter to Judge Ledwaba: “We submit that the bank statements of EFFG2, Linked Environmental Services, Ria Tenda Trust and Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation accounts contain confidential information which must be protected.”
The public protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said Mkhwebane would not appeal the decision, but expressed disappointment over the sealing of the banking details.
Segalwe said: “The judge took a decision to seal the records purely on the basis of the insinuations that the records were obtained illegally. It appears that the president was only interested in protecting his donors, who did not make representation that they did not want their details of financial funding be made public.”
The president was granted an interdict on Monday, unopposed by the public protector, preventing her from enforcing any of the remedial action in her report until his judicial review had been concluded.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)