NPA braces for farmgate outcome

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has given itself a month or two to make a decision on the the Phala Phala case.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has given itself a month or two to make a decision on the the Phala Phala case.

Published Jun 21, 2023


The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has given itself a month or two to make a decision on the the Phala Phala case, involving millions of rand in foreign currency, stuffed in couches on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Limpopo farm.

The NPA also confirmed it had been presented with a docket for consideration, however, a request to obtain outstanding information has been sent to the investigating team.

“The NPA is abreast of the status of the investigation and as soon as the outstanding information is received, it should take us a month to two months to make a decision,” said NPA Limpopo spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi.

Just over a year ago former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser lodged a complaint against Ramaphosa and Presidential Protection Unit head Wally Rhoode at Rosebank Police Station, claiming Rhoode allegedly traced and assaulted the five Namibian nationals accused of robbing the president’s farm.

There was between $4m (R72m) and $8m (R144m), at the farm, when the robbery took place in 2020, he claimed.

The unreported theft, according to him, pointed to prima facie proof of money laundering in contravention of Section 4 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act No 121 of 1998 (POCA).While no police case was opened, Ramaphosa’s office claimed the matter was reported to the Presidential Protection Unit of the SAPS for investigation, and Ramaphosa denied being involved in any criminal conduct.

He said the money was from the sale of animals, but could not explain why the animals were yet to be collected two years after they were allegedly sold.

Sars had no records of the foreign currency being declared by the alleged buyer, who had claimed he did so upon landing at OR Tambo International Airport. The Section 89 panel led by retired chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found there was prima facie evidence that Ramaphosa may have violated a number of laws. Ramaphosa was also dealt a blow after the Constitutional Court refused him direct access to challenge the Ngcobo report.

He has since abandoned the court challenge.

Outstanding investigations include the matter before the NPA, and a Public Protector complaint by African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyo Zungula.

Speaking to the Cape Times, Zungula said the amount of time it had taken to get to this stage was very “concerning”.

“It gives the impression that the politically elite are above the law. Then there is the question of whether they are investigating the president, are they going to prosecute the president, it’s very vague who they are investigating.

“It can't be that society is expected to abide by law and order alone. It does not give confidence to citizens to be law abiding because the politically elite and wealthy are treated differently before the law.”

Criminologist Dr Simon Howell said both the complexity of the case and the public interest would affect how long it took to see an outcome. “The more the public interest, the more they would want to ensure they have a watertight case. The person charged, it’s never happened involving a sitting president.

The charges are also complicated, not easy to prove. They have to provide documented evidence of the entire chain of events. With the political perspective, it could drag on until after the elections.

There is a lot of public pressure, so it might be quick, between six months or two years, but there is no way to tell.”

The delays in releasing the report led to some University of KZN students disrupting a Youth Day event, where Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka was to deliver an address last week.

Her preliminary report into a possible breach of the Executive Members Ethics Act apparently exonerated Ramaphosa. Her office recently said the final report was in its last stages.

“The PPSA has received responses to the notice in terms of section 7(9) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994 read with Rule 42(1) and 41(1) of the Rules Relating to Investigations by the Public Protector and Matters Incidental Thereto, 201 8, as amended.

The report is undergoing quality assurance. A final report will be produced in due course. As the PPSA, we commit to bringing finality to the matter timeously.”

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said the Phala Phala saga proved that Ramaphosa’s presidency was built on “falsehood”.

“We have moved from Ramaphoria to Ramaruin, now to Ramageddon. Before Phala Phala, Ramaphosa projected the persona of incorruptibility and accountability.

He charmed his way by using his predecessor as a scapegoat for all that has gone wrong in the ANC and government.

“He tried very hard to project himself in the image of Mandela.

The Phala Phala scandal brought that to an abrupt end. The truth stares us in the face. Since taking over as president, things have got worse under Ramaphosa.

“Ramaphosa and the ANC have done their best to try to wish away the findings of the parliamentary panel that found him probably guilty of serious violations of the law and the Constitution, but this remains. There is no doubt that the opposition will milk the Phala Phala scandal to their advantage as we move closer to the elections.”

Cape Times