By Andile Mngxitama
The leaked preliminary report of the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has opened the Pandora’s box of white corruption. The report recommends that ABSA must pay back more than R2 billion stolen from the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) during apartheid. If ABSA pays this money then too many others will be obliged to also pay back stolen money and that’s the problem that the billionaire Johann Rupert is trying to avoid.
Johann Rupert and his late father Anton Rupert are named in the Ciex report as part of the white businessmen who benefited from the so-called “lifeboats”. This mechanism of “lifeboats” was deliberately used to loot SARB under the pretext of bailing out struggling white businesses.
Johann Rupert, in a desperate attempt to discredit the report of the Public Protector, has made emotional, irrational and untruthful denials and threats from abroad. He is reported to have said that the Ciex report “is a work of fiction”. This begs the question, since the Ciex report has been out from 1999, why has Johan Rupert not sued those implicating him or taken any other action to have the “fiction” fixed? Or has he hoped that those who assured him that the matter has been concealed have done a good enough job?
Rupert went on an empty bravado and said, “I would welcome a full and transparent investigation into the whole thing so we can finally put to rest all the stories and lies swirling around.” The question is, why has he waited for 18 years? Was his conscience pricked by the leaked report whose reasoning shows that if ABSA pays, then Rupert must pay?
Rupert is a billionaire. He has no excuse for not having sued for defamation of character as soon as the report was first made public. We are now left to think that these are empty threats made to try and intimidate the Public Protector and those who have been calling for investigations on white corruption.
Johann Rupert then makes thinly veiled threats by saying, “I would also welcome it so that certain people and groups can apologise for making unsubstantiated accusations”. There is in fact only one person who is going to apologise in the end and that’s Johann Rupert. Black First Land First (BLF) has, over and above the investigation by the Public Protector into the “life boats” saga, opened a criminal case against Johann Rupert and others who are implicated in the said saga which involves the theft of R26 billion from the SARB.
Johann Rupert is jumping the gun. In a desperate attempt to divert attention from his own culpability, he says he was opposed to the Bankorp deal which ultimately benefited ABSA. This is an unwitting admission that he knew about the shenanigans at SARB during apartheid. But most importantly, Johann Rupert is answering a question that no one has asked him. No one has said that he and his father benefited from the Bankorp saga – the unlawful benefit he must answer to relates to Rembrandt, which today is Remgro. The question is straight forward. Did Rembrandt benefit from the “lifeboats”?
This is a question the white owned media won’t ask.
Johan Rupert subsequently made a revealing statement. He asked, “[h]ow and why would government be able to recover money from us?” It is easy Johann – if the President of the country can pay back the money, so can you. What is clear is that Johann Rupert is a troubled man. The net is getting closer and closer. Our advise to him is that he must quickly repent, confess and pay back the money. Why delay the inevitable?
Lies and threats won’t work this time around.
Andile Mngxitama is the National Convener of Black First Land First