The office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has announced that it will start a preliminary investigation into claims of state capture, focusing on Eskom, Transnet and Prasa.
The investigation appears to be spurred by the leak of over 100,000 Gupta emails, which contains damning information, showing how the Gupta family used their political influence to secure lucrative state contracts and manipulate state institutions.
The office said it will be looking into allegations made by the media, including the reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO, and allegations that acting chief executive Matshela Koko leaked a legal opinion to the Guptas.
Other matters that will be looked into are allegations surrounding president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, and claims that minister Faith Muthambi leaked confidential information to the family.
Earlier in June, Mkhwebane’s office said that the Public Protector had no plans to investigate the so-called Gupta leaks on her own initiative, saying that she could only launch and investigation once a formal submission had been made.
The office said it faced a significant backlog, and with the current court processes underway regarding the last state capture report, it looked unlikely that another investigation would be underway any time soon.
At the time, the Public Protector’s office said the allegations contained within the email leaks would fit into the greater picture of state capture, which is already covered by the State of Capture report, and has recommendations made already.
“It would be ideal if the court processes could run their course so it can give direction as to how the state capture matter should be dealt with. It would also be ideal for that process to take place without delay,” her office said.
President Jacob Zuma has taken the State of Capture report on review, challenging the manner in which the Public Protector ordered the judicial commission of inquiry to be set up. This will tie the actions ordered in the report up in litigation until September 2017 and beyond – a full year after the report was published.
Despite claiming that he is not opposed to a commission of inquiry, the president is yet to make any formal move to establish one, while also doing his best to block all attempts to force him to do so.
Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks have announced an official investigation into state capture, with witnesses coming forward with evidence of criminal activity.