Cape Town - Anyone involved in trophy hunting has some level of moral disconnect, so the fact that President Cyril Ramaphosa was potentially involved in other crimes was not surprising.
This is the view of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a non-profit animal rights organisation, in reaction to criminal investigations into Ramaphosa after millions of US dollars “concealed” in furniture on his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo were stolen - allegedly by a gang of Namibian nationals with the assistance of his domestic worker.
Ramaphosa is being investigated for alleged money laundering, defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping the suspects who were allegedly interrogated and breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, no 121 of 1998 (“Poca”) and the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act No12 of 2004 (“The Corruption Act”).
Ramaphosa has only confirmed that the matter was reported to the head of his security, and not the police.
It remains unclear whether Sars and the SA Reserve Bank have launched their investigations in relation to the breaching of the country’s laws around foreign currency.
In 2020, the same year of the theft of the money, PETA conducted an undercover investigation which revealed Ramaphosa’s alleged hidden connections and investments in the trophy hunting industry, after a hunting Safari owner was caught on video stating that the president had bought a 50% stake in their company.
“Footage reveals that Ramaphosa is quietly developing and expanding a trophy hunting property called Diepdrift — stocking it with animals from his own wildlife breeding operation, Phala Phala — and that he owns a 50% stake in Tsala Hunting Safaris. In other words, far from ‘conserving’ wildlife, wild animals are bred specifically to be killed for trophies. PETA recorded conversations in which Ramaphosa’s managers admitted that he shares equally in the profits from all hunts conducted through Tsal and spoke of the importance of concealing his involvement,” the organisation said at the time.
“One person identified as the manager was quoted saying: ‘We try to keep the president’s name out of the hunting thing because … of all the greenies …. So he wanna spare himself this, how can I say, bad publicity and all of that.”
Following the PETA investigation, Ramaphosa distanced himself from the allegations last January, saying they were “unsubstantiated”.
In a statement he said: “Contrary to PETA’s assertions, neither Phala Phala nor I have a stake in the trophy hunting industry. It is furthermore also patently false that Phala Phala breeds game for the purpose of being sold to trophy hunters. Phala Phala is well known and recognised for its wildlife breeding and management practices that comply with the best ethical and lawful practice in the sector; as well as for its contribution to the racial transformation of the sector.”
PETA Asia Senior Vice-President Jason Baker yesterday told the Cape Times they were not surprised at recent developments concerning possible illegal activity involving Ramaphosa.
“We’re glad to see an investigation into the President’s animal breeding business, however we hope that authorities will also investigate the animal cruelty aspect of this. Anyone involved in trophy hunting has some level of moral disconnect, so the fact that the President is potentially involved in other crimes is not surprising,” said Baker.
“Animals shot by trophy hunters often endure a prolonged and painful death — simply so that hunters can chop off their heads and other body parts. The only solution to this is an end to trophy hunting, and we hope South African authorities will end this industry for good.”
Approached for comment on Wednesday, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said they had nothing to add.
Meanwhile Ramaphosa is reportedly set co-chair the third session of the Namibia-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Windhoek from June 28 to July 1, alongside his Namibian counterpart Hage Geingob.