The glaring inconsistencies in how the law-enforcement agencies and financial regulators have treated President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm break-in saga are too obvious to dispute.
Take the recent arrests of the three suspected thieves by the Hawks to illustrate our argument.
The breakthrough is commendable, but neither Ramaphosa nor those he tasked with running the farm reported a case of theft and break-in to the police when the incident took place in early 2020.
Only after former State Security head Arthur Fraser blew the lid two years later about the theft of US dollars stashed in furniture at Phala Phala was a case reported to the police. Subsequently, the Hawks took over the investigation.
Months later, we have arrests and the accused must now answer to charges. Equally and if justice is seen to be done, questions must be asked of the Hawks’ pace in the case against Ramaphosa, which includes serious allegations of torture, bribery, failing to report a crime and money laundering, among others.
The Hawks can no longer remain tight-lipped about such an important probe which could end the president’s career if he were to be charged. They should demonstrate the same vigour as in the case of former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries deputy director-general, Siphokazi Ndudane, who the Hawks accused of contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca) when she apparently failed to report fraud brought to her attention.
This is the same act Ramaphosa allegedly violated, according to Fraser. The damage a president with a dark cloud over his head can cause the country is irreparable. Especially so when a panel established by Parliament found Ramaphosa may have violated his oath of office. That report still stands after he abandoned his bid to challenge it.
The reliance on subsequent reports by the public protector and the SA Reserve Bank has done very little to nullify the scathing findings of the parliamentary panel led by retired chief justice Sandile Ngcobo.
The longer the Hawks unjustifiably prolong their probe, the more difficult it becomes to argue against critics questioning their independence, and rightly so.