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South Africa: President Ramaphosa's enquiry could take two years

South Africa: President Ramaphosa's enquiry could take two years
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during a meeting with President Joe Biden ...   -  
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Alex Brandon/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press

South Africa

The South African Ombudsman's investigation into President Cyril Ramaphosa's embarrassment over a scandal involving bundles of cash found in one of his properties during a burglary in 2020 could take at least two years, she said Friday.

"The time of the investigation is not the time of the political news," Kholeka Gcaleka warned at a meeting with the foreign press, two months before a crucial conference of the ruling ANC, which is due to decide whether to reappoint Ramaphosa to represent it in the 2024 national elections.

"We would like to complete our investigation within two years. But we have to follow up leads involving multiple state bodies, we can't take any shortcuts," said the lawyer by training.

The final report must be "legally sound to stand the test of scrutiny" by a court, otherwise, the institution, whose very existence is provided for by the Constitution, is wasting its time, she stressed.

"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, launched investigations in June after Ramaphosa, 69, was accused of hush-hiking burglars who stumbled on large sums of money at one of his properties, leading to 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 in view of the scale and complexity" of the case, Gcaleka said.

Since then, "the president has responded effectively and allowed us to follow up on leads. He has answered all the questions," she added, adding that two investigators from her office are working full-time on this investigation, under the responsibility of a manager, and regularly exchange information with the police.

The Ombudsman's mission is to investigate and report any misconduct or malfeasance in government, independently, impartially, "without fear, favour or prejudice", and to take corrective action that can only be challenged in court, she said.

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