The Gupta family’s lawyers have told the Public Protector that should the findings of her state capture report include that the family was “in any way whatsoever involved in inappropriate conduct,” she would be doing so at her “own peril”.
“If you choose to include that my clients were in any way whatsoever involved in inappropriate conduct under circumstances where we have tendered evidence to the contrary and under circumstances where we had a clear right to contradict the evidence you have gathered, you do at your own peril and at your own risk,” a letter sent to outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s office by lawyers van der Merwe Associates reads.
In the letter, Gert van der Merwe, writing on behalf of Ajay Gupta, accuses Madonsela of having a predetermined view of how she wanted the report to look.
The controversial family also believed that the evidence gathered during the investigation was merely “window dressing”. It called for Madonsela to follow due process in the probe.
Van der Merwe said they had asked to engage with witnesses who had testified in the state capture probe with no success.
“I have warned constantly against your approach and the processes followed, all in vain just to be advised that you will issue your report on Friday.
“It is clear that you have a predetermined view of how your report should look and I submit that the evidence you have gathered was gathered as window dressing for your decision that you have taken before my client’s version could be heard or your version could be tested. You seem to ignore the act responsible for your existence and it leaves me flabbergasted,” the lawyer said.
They had considered applying for an urgent interdict, but “since the exact adverse conclusions you intend to make are only speculation, I do not want to put my client at risk and thereby create a fresh media hype”.
They would wait for the report to be released, he said, and consider the contents before deciding on a way forward.
Any “forced” report, the letter continued, will be an effort to force the Public Protector’s views and “it is obvious you show distrust in your successor under these circumstances”.
“It begs the question whether you leave a well-respected office with ill-intent and with a last punch at your rival, the president,” the lawyer’s letter concluded.
This comes a day after President Jacob Zuma also requested a chance to interview witnesses who had appeared before the Public Protector and to also see any evidence that implicated him.