The office of the Public Protector confirmed that Public Protector Mkhwebane has opened a criminal case over the leaking of the provisional Absa report.
The said report was leaked last week and reportedly contained information that linked Absa to an apartheid-era bailout worth billions of rands.
According to the office’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, the Public Protector’s move was taken in order to establish how the report leaked and who actually leaked it.
Segalwe stressed that the leak was a serious case as the right to publicize it, is strictly and legally reserved for the Public Protector – as contained in the Public Protector Act.
“Leaking information dents the image of the institution and results in a trust deficit. It could lead to people not trusting our processes, especially whistleblowers who may not be identified,” Segalwe said.
The report was put together by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and it detailed how the banking institution (Absa) benefited from a state-sponsored bailout towards the end of apartheid in the 1990s.
It also recommended that the bank pays back the R2.2 billion it received from state coffers. It is understood that Madonsela planned to release it before the end of her tenure (which came to an end in October) but was held back by an “administrative error”.
At a briefing in Cape Town on Monday, Madonsela, however, refused to say whether her report into alleged apartheid-era looting was changed by her successor. She started the investigation since 2011.
She simply said: “History will tell the truth about what I concluded and what is now on the table. The fact that it took longer, doesn’t mean it was less important. The horse had already bolted. It was about what information we could collect.”
Meanwhile, the ANC has slammed Madonsela for prioritizing the state of capture report instead of working on the provisional report linking Absa to an apartheid-era bailout.
ANC’s Mantashe said, that in his view, Madonsela’s State of Capture report was rushed. He also wondered why the apartheid debt report was not treated with the same urgency.
“That’s the issue; why is it not published? The State of Capture written in a rush [then] released [was] totally clumsy in my view,” Mantashe protested.