South Africa’s Ombudsman’s investigation into President Cyril Ramaphosa, hampered by a scandal over wads of cash found at one of his properties in a 2020 burglary, could take at least two years , she said on Friday.
“The time of the investigation is not that of political news”, warned Kholeka Gcaleka during a meeting with the foreign press, two months before a crucial conference of the ANC, party to the power, who must decide whether to renew Mr. Ramaphosa to represent him in the national elections of 2024.
“We would like to complete our investigation within two years. But we have to trace leads involving multiple state bodies, we cannot take any shortcuts,” explained this lawyer by training.
The final report must “be legally sound to withstand the test of scrutiny” by a court, otherwise the institution, whose very existence is provided for by the Constitution, is wasting its time, she stresses.
“It is difficult to set deadlines. But I can tell you that we will not waste time or delay this investigation,” she assured.
The ombudsman, along with the police, opened inquiries in June after Mr Ramaphosa, 69, was accused of buying the silence of burglars who came across large sums of money at one of his properties , earning him suspicions of money laundering and corruption.
Initially the ombudsman’s office sent 31 questions to the president, who had two weeks to respond. “He asked for a delay, which I granted given the magnitude and complexity” of the case, said Ms. Gcaleka.
Since then, “the president has responded to us effectively and allowed us to follow leads. He has answered all the questions”, she added, specifying that two investigators from her office are working full time on this investigation, under the responsibility of a supervisor, and exchange regularly with the police in particular.
The Ombudsman’s mission is to investigate and report any misconduct or wrongdoing in government, independently, impartially, “without fear, favor or prejudice”, and to take corrective action that can only be challenged in court. , she recalled.