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Assets order: SA Justice Department appears to do about-turn on Phala Phala controversy

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm.

Published Jun 20, 2022


Cape Town - The Namibian Police Force’s scathing statement largely contradicting the South African government over the theft of millions of US dollars “concealed” under furniture on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm has necessitated the country’s justice department to seemingly make an about-turn on its stance.

The statement released on Thursday reveals that the Namibian Police Force identified individuals, bank accounts and various properties including lodges, houses and vehicles suspected to have been purchased with the proceeds of crime, and consulted the Office of the Prosecutor General to consider a preservation order of the assets.

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A preservation order was issued and a formal request was made through the Ministry of Justice to South Africa to confirm whether or not a crime was registered in South Africa, according to the statement.

Among those under their radar was Imanuwela David, the alleged mastermind behind the robbery, and four Namibian nationals suspected to have stolen money in South Africa and fled to Namibia.

However, after no response was received from South African authorities, the preservation order was “cancelled and the assets released”.

Justice and Correctional Services spokesperson Chrispin Phiri had initially told the Cape Times last week that there was no record of any requests from their Namibian counterparts.

He, however, told this publication’s sister publication, the Sunday Independent, on Sunday that they were engaging with their Namibian counterparts to establish if there was a record of a request.

Asked why he had issued what appeared to be contradicting statements, Phiri said: “My view is that we are still saying roughly the same thing. Perhaps what has changed is that we are actually engaging through diplomatic channels. But we have not confirmed the existence of a request on our side.The public statement by the Namibian Police Force has necessitated the need for us to establish what has transpired. As we speak, we have no record of the request. We would not be engaging through diplomatic channels if we actually had a record of the request. We would have responded directly to the request. As we have done countless times with the Namibian authorities.”

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is under pressure to step down amid the serious allegations against him including bribery, kidnapping and money laundering.

In his affidavit to police, former State Security head Arthur Fraser who lifted the lid on the matter when he lodged a complaint against Ramaphosa, said: “The mere fact that President Ramaphosa had large undisclosed sums of foreign currency in the form of US dollars concealed in his furniture at his Phala Phala residence is prima facie proof of money laundering in contravention of section 4 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act No 121 of 1998 (Poca).”

Questions have also been raised about the source of the funds, which Ramaphosa claims were from the sale of game/cattle. The Reserve Bank, Sars and the Treasury have yet to publicly disclose if the money was declared in compliance with the country’s laws. Fraser recently met with the Hawks to further discuss the case and is believed to have provided them with more evidence, while Ramaphosa continues to refuse to disclose the details of the matter.

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He is “guilty as hell”, said political analyst, Professor Sipho Seepe.

“What we know as a matter of fact is that the theft was meant to be hushed up. So the duck and diving is to buy time for Ramaphosa. He has a lot to answer. It is unfortunate that our law enforcement agencies are being compromised by a president who refuses to come clean. It is a matter of time. The more he ducks, the more he digs his own grave. He is unfit to lecture us about transparency, corruption and the rule of law.”

Stellenbosch University director of the School of Public Leadership Professor Zwelinzima Ndevu said: “The new developments add to the confusion (or lack of willingness to share appropriate information). The Namibian government has also not been forthcoming with information except when there is internal pressure to do so. This certainly points to deliberate misleading information being shared with the public to cover the true events that happened. The relationship (between the two countries) would be strained as no country would like to be accused or seen to be in transgression of another country's laws and systems for individual benefits. This case clearly points to that, let’s hope there will be co-operation between them on information sharing.”

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Cape Times