Expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema declined an interview with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on suspected tender fraud in Limpopo because due process was not followed, his lawyers said on Friday.
"It was only after Mr Malema complained that he had not been afforded an opportunity to be interviewed, and having challenged the integrity of the investigation, that the Public Protector agreed to interview Mr Malema," Brian Kahn Incorporated Attorneys said in a statement.
"Considering that a proper and fair process had not been followed by the Public Protector, Mr Malema declined to comment on the provisional report."
Madonsela's probe focused on the R50-million contract awarded to On-Point Engineering by the Limpopo roads and transport department.
In her report, released on Wednesday, she found the tender was unlawful and that On-Point and Malema improperly benefited from this through his Ratanang Family Trust.
Malema's lawyers said that even though the complaints with regard to allegations against Malema were lodged in July 2011 , Madonsela issued a provisional report only in July this year.
"We received the provisional report from the Public Protector on 3 August 2012, affording Mr Malema five business days to respond to a 140-page report that had taken the Public Protector many months to complete," it said.
In a letter to the law firm, Madonsela's office said: "The provisional report clearly indicates that the Public Protector does not intend making any negative finding in respect of the conduct of Mr Malema or the Ratanang Family Trust."
Malema's lawyers said the final report was "very different" to the provisional report seen by Malema.
"There is no explanation as to why the findings in relation to Mr Malema and the Ratanang Family Trust in the final report differ so materially from the provisional report," they said.
"These changes, interestingly, only surfaced after charges [of money-laundering] had been laid against Mr Malema in September."
On Friday, Madonsela told Parliament's portfolio committee on justice that she rejected Malema's claim that she failed to give him the right to reply.
She said she had not only sent Malema a copy of her preliminary findings, as is her custom with anybody at risk of an adverse finding, but had also given him an opportunity to be interviewed.
"He responded in writing to say he would not like to be interviewed."
Madonsela said Malema complained to her around mid-August that he had not been interviewed as part of the investigation.
She wrote back to his lawyers within a day that the point of such an interview would be to allow Malema to give any additional information that would "prevent the adverse findings".
Malema then responded two weeks later that he was not available to be interviewed, she said.
Explaining her dealings with Malema, Madonsela said her probe led to him via a bank payment from On-Point to the Ratanang Family Trust, which belongs to Malema's family.
"The other thing to be noted is that in this report there isn't anything that speaks to Mr Malema specifically," she said.