A 27-suspect is expected to appear in the Bela Bela Magistrate’s Court on Friday in connection with the theft of hundreds of thousands of undeclared US currency hidden in furniture at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm, after handing himself in to police.
Hawks spokesperson Katlego Mogale said the suspect was arrested by the Serious Corruption Investigation unit based at the national head office of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation on Thursday afternoon when he handed himself in at the Bela Bela police station.
The other two accused, Imanuwela David, 39, and Ramaphosa’s then-housekeeper Froliana Joseph, 30, will also be appearing after their case was postponed on Monday.
They were arrested on Sunday in Rustenburg and on Monday in Bela Bela, respectively, on charges of housebreaking, theft and an additional charge of money laundering.
Meanwhile, opposition have parties called on law enforcement agencies not to shield Ramaphosa from being held accountable after the arrests.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the arrests should not take away the focus from Ramaphosa, who was yet to come clean.
“The important question here is where the money came from and how it ended at the president’s farm. Why was it not declared and why did it have to be hidden under the furniture if there was nothing untoward? As long as there is no clarity there will always be a cloud hanging over his head,” Holomisa said.
After reports by the public protector and the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) that cleared Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing, Holomisa said that the police investigation could not be informed by those reports.
“These reports are a clear attempt for a cover-up by manipulating facts in favour of the president.”
The police investigation as an independent body should dig deeper, they should not just take someone’s version of the events and use that to shield him from being charged.
“These law enforcement institutions must pray the ANC wins the general elections, otherwise a lot of people will be in a lot of trouble for having gone all out to protect a man that has clearly broken the laws of this country.
He further stated Ramaphosa had compromised himself when he did not report the crimes to the police but sought to clean up his mess when he allegedly conducted an illegal covert operation.
African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyo Zungula urged law enforcement agencies and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to “stop cherry-picking their indictments”.
“They ought to charge all those involved, including the president himself,” Zungula said.
What we see is the NPA creating an illusion that they are acting on the crimes committed at Phala Phala, yet in reality, they are still shielding the president.
“Let these suspects who have been arrested appear in court and testify on the actual amount. However, in reality that’s neither here nor there. Whether it was $4m or $580 000, the president still broke the law and must be held accountable as the money entered the country illegally,” Zungula said.
He said his party only accepted the section 89 independent parliamentary report by the panel led by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, who found that Ramaphosa had a case to answer.
“The former chief justice, unlike others who wrote other reports, does not rely on the president for any promotions or favours. He rightfully found the president had a case to answer, while the rest of the institutions that cleared the president such as the public protector relied on the president for favours and promotions. Hence they could shield the president in exchange for certain career progression benefits,” Zungula said.
The Hawks’ Mogale refused to comment on whether they would investigate Ramaphosa for his role in the Phala Phala scandal.
The Limpopo NPA spokesperson, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, said it would prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice.
“We are committed to the rule of law, as per our Constitution nobody is above law. As such, the NPA will prosecute anyone including the president if evidence is available to prove the commission of an offence. We will not protect anyone,” she said.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya did not respond to questions from Independent Media, seeking to establish the relationship between Ramaphosa’s then-housekeeper Joseph and her father, why he re-employed her and allegedly paid Joseph R150 000 after she allegedly stole from him, and how he recruited her to work at his farm.
The Phala Phala saga, which has tainted Ramaphosa’s credibility and that of the police, was exposed by Independent Media in a 2022 “Sunday Independent” exclusive.
It sparked a judicial inquiry after former spy boss Arthur Fraser filed official complaints of money laundering against Ramaphosa and his head of security, General Wally Rhoode, at the Rosebank police station on June 1, 2022.
In his affidavit, Fraser alleged that the amount of money stolen was between $4m and $8m. He also claimed the president attempted to conceal the crime by paying off those who stole from him in exchange for their silence on the theft at his farm.
A public outcry resulted in Parliament appointing an independent panel headed by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, whose damning report cautioned that Ramaphosa was not being truthful by declaring that only $580 000 was stolen.