Image: BLF members were arrested after peacefully occupying the Public Protector’s office. Photo: Alaister Russell/The Citizen.
By Zanele Lwana
On 19 July 2016 at Court 16 in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court BLF’s Andile Mngxitama led 25 comrades from the court cells to the dock chanting “izwe lethu, iAfrika” and “one settler, one bullet” to appear before the court on charges of public violence and trespassing. Before the BLF26 appeared in the dock the white Magistrate left her bench for about 5 minutes evidently as the slogans were being chanted from the cells below. In her absence the media ignored her previous ruling of “no cameras allowed” and began recording the procession of the BLF26 whose message screamed from the collective backs of their T-shirts – “land or death”. During this warrior like parade the BLF26 each raised their fists in a Black Power salute as they periodically responded to the revolutionary call of their National Convener.
The State objected to their release from custody on the basis that it had not had sufficient time to verify the addresses of the said members. Accused numbers 1 to 13 were represented by Mr Ndlovu and accused numbers 14 to 26 were represented by Mr Norman Montjane. The bail hearing was postponed to 26 July 2016 and all 26 members were remanded in custody and to this end taken to the Pretoria Central Prison. It must be stated that the allegations by the state regarding the above offences are empty in that they are based on obviously fabricated evidence.
BLF maintains that the Public Protector (PP) is lying when she described the BLF protest engagement at her office as a hostage situation. She did so to coverup her misconduct in not giving the necessary feedback on the investigation which has been on her desk for the past five years regarding the R26billion stolen by white capitalists as indicated in the CIEX report. Furthermore the PP is lying to avoid investigating the complaint by BLF of state capture by white capital. We note how readily available the PP is to investigate relatively small claims regarding black corruption but refuses to investigate billions stolen by white capital. The Nkandla case involving R246 million in relation to the R26 billion stolen by white capitalists from the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is instructive here.
The PP is now saying that she can’t investigate any apartheid era or any other pre-1994 crime as that would fall outside the authority of her office, but she has already admitted to providing updates of the said investigation to Adv Hoffman. Furthermore, BLF reminds the PP, which she is already aware of, that the claim of R26billion stolen by white capitalists arises from an investigation that the SA government commissioned in 1997. To this end a private investigations company from the UK (Ciex) was contracted to investigate apartheid era crime and corruption. Thereafter in 1999, Ciex reported that it had identified R26-billion that was “stolen”, “laundered” and or “held offshore” by apartheid-regime “bankers, arms dealers and senior politicians”. In this context and in August 2011, the PP indicated that she would conduct investigations into some of Ciex’s claims. To this end she will enquire into the missing apartheid billions including inter alia the R26 billion implicated in apartheid-era corruption.
This claim that she has no jurisdiction to investigate matters originating in the apartheid era is new evidence from the PP. It seems that she’s fabricating her version as she’s going along because the previous reasons she gave for not proceeding with the investigation were successfully rebutted by BLF.
Let us now revisit her previous reasons:
On 5 October 2015 the PP sent an empty response to BLF’s request to investigate the claim in the CIEX report regarding the R26billion stolen by white capital. BLF responded to this empty response. The utter contempt displayed by the PP in relation to BLF while showing the utmost respect for the white man called Paul Hoffman was pointed out to her. Furthermore, BLF pointed out that her response served clearly to gloss over the legitimate queries of BLF. Basically the PP’s response had 4 contradictions, namely:
1. On twitter she announced that her investigation was “derailed” but she had not indicated either to BLF or to the country who specifically had “derailed” the investigation and to this end what consequences did the perpetrators of the crime of derailment face. Since to “derail” the investigation, we pointed out, was nothing short of a “deliberate act of sabotage”, she is expected to act appropriately against the wrongdoers.
2. The PP sited “resource constraints” for not finalizing her investigation. When the complaint was first lodged with her office she decided not to take on the matter due to financial requirements she assumed may be necessary. She subsequently changed her mind after considering the available evidence and the necessity of the investigation and to this end suggested that the issue of resources would not be a problem. In any event if the lack of resources was a problem why has the nation not heard of this problem in the last 4 years that the matter was with her and to this end what steps has she taken to resolve that issue? Quite clearly a failure on the PP’s part to raise the required resources, coupled with a failure to “raise the alarm” for the past 4 years on why no investigation has been conducted by her, amounts to a “dereliction of duty” on her part.
3. The PP thirdly mentions “challenges” her office has experienced. She has not in the past 4 years indicated what these challenges are so this explanation is unacceptable. Also the PP emphasized on twitter and the media that the complainant is Advocate Hoffman, whom she has been briefing of developments. Since this Adv Hoffman has been silent for the past 4 years we can therefore reasonably infer that he is satisfied with whatever explanation the PP has given him. It also suggests, considering the importance of this matter to blacks, that he has no interest in the successful finalization of the investigation. In any event Hoffman is brought into the conversation so as to cause a diversion from the matter at hand. BLF acts in the interests of the many unemployed and poor black youth and to this end has a direct interest in the return of the Billions. Clearly this is not Hoffman’s interest. The underlying house nigger undertones of the treatment meted out by the PP to BLF as opposed to that given to Adv Hoffman cannot be ignored and is rejected with contempt by us.
4. The 4th issue raised by the PP is that the investigation is complicated. Here we pointed out that there were already two state commissioned investigations that were credible and which have already done the work for her – being the Heath and Ciex investigations. So the claim that the investigation is “complicated” does not hold. Most of the people associated with the theft of people’s money including those who covered it up are alive and can be made to account for their wrongdoings.
BLF further asked the PP to provide us with the history and detail of updates provided to Advocate Hoffman. This has to date not been provided.
BLF calls on the PP, Adv Thuli Madonsela, to do the following:
Finalize and release her report regarding the stolen R26 billion by white capitalists from SARB as indicated in the CIEX report.
Investigate and release her report regarding BLF’s complaint of state capture by white capital.
Stop peddling lies about what happened in her office on 18 July 2016 when BLF demanded answers to the questions it raised there. She was not even in her office.
Furthermore, we call for the immediate and unconditional release of all BLF detainees. It is not necessary for the BLF26 to be detained for 7 more days just so that the State can verify the addresses of those detained. Why does the State need 7 days to verify addresses that can be confirmed within a day. This is an unreasonably long period and amounts to unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of the liberty of the BLF26.
Zanele Lwana is the National Spokesperson of the Black First Land First movement