President Cyril Ramaphosa’s response to the Parliamentary inquiry set up to probe the Phala Phala saga appears to confirm a transaction between an employee and the alleged buyer of the buffalos, which adds more ‘confusion’ over the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) findings.
The SARB on Monday found no evidence of a sale being executed, concluding that there was no breach of exchange control regulations uncovered in relation to millions of rands (in US dollars) that were stolen from Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in 2020.
In March this year, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) also said the sale of the game had been declared.
The SARB had been called on to launch an investigation into whether there may have been breaches of the exchange control regulations in relation to the cash concealed in furniture.
“On the facts available to it, the SARB finds that there was no perfected transaction and thus the SARB cannot conclude that there was any contravention of the Exchange Control Regulations (the applicable Regulation is Regulation 6(1) by Ntaba Nyoni Estates CC (the entity involved) or for that matter by the President.
“That is because the SARB has concluded that the transaction in question was subject to conditions precedent which were not fulfilled, and therefore there was no legal entitlement, within the meaning of Regulation (6)(1), on the part of Ntaba Nyoni Estates CC, to the foreign currency.”
However, managing director at Donda Attorneys Xulu Melusi disagreed with the SARB’s interpretation.
“The question is how was the transaction not perfected when the President himself was aware of the foreign currency and accepted it? I am of the view that there was a perfect transaction and the President acknowledges that.”
In his response to the section 89 Parliamentary inquiry led by retired chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, Ramaphosa provided what he claimed to be a receipt confirming the sale of the animals.
“On December 26 2019, I went to Phala Phala. While there, the Lodge Manager, Mr Ndlovu, informed me about what had transpired the previous day. At the time, the General Manager Mr von Wielligh was on leave. Mr Mustafa Mohamed Ibrahim Hazim, a citizen of Sudan (’Mr Hazim’), came to the farm to view buffaloes that were for sale.
Mr Ndlovu showed Mr Hazim the buffaloes in Camp 6 and Mr Hazim identified those that he liked.”
The SARB finding has also been questioned by civil society organisation and political parties, with SA1st Forum convenor, advocate Rod Solomons saying: “In essence, the SARB is saying because ‘there was no perfected transaction’, thus because one of the key conditions of the transaction was not met the President and his CC were thus not entitled to the money.
I assume this ‘condition’ is that the cattle were not taken by the buyer or given to the buyer for the money. That is maybe technically so, but he did have the money at his premises, over $USD500 000.
“What is the SARB view about that? Imagine, you or I had even $USD50 000 at your house without declaring it to SARS.”
Also putting the SARB under the spotlight was the decision not to release the full report because it was “a private internal report.”