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Thursday, July 7, 2022

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Stolen millions of dollars puts Ramaphosa under pressure: Now Parliament urged to probe theft at his Limpopo farm

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

Published Jun 7, 2022

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Durban - PRESSURE is mounting on President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide details on the theft of millions of dollars in cash at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo in 2020, with UDM leader Bantu Holomisa writing to Parliament calling for an investigation and for him to go on sabbatical leave during the probe.

Holomisa yesterday wrote to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula saying Parliament must investigate allegations that Ramaphosa may be complicit in criminality.

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He said that Parliament should appoint two or three retired judges to conduct a preliminary investigation into former State Security Agency (SSA) boss Arthur Fraser’s allegations that Ramaphosa had not reported the crime to the police, and had sought to cover up the matter.

“These allegations have been greatly destructive of the country’s image, both at home and abroad, and are likely to affect investor confidence negatively, especially given that President Ramaphosa has acted as the champion of good governance, and now this bomb has burst over his very own head,” said Holomisa.

Holomisa suggested that with an acting president in place, Parliament could institute a preliminary investigation into the entire matter with terms of reference that would include whether the SA Revenue Service and the SA Reserve Bank had any knowledge of the money.

“Such a preliminary investigation could be conducted by two or three retired Constitutional Court judges, and their findings could be handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for further action.

“We have heard some of Mr Fraser and President Ramaphosa’s versions of events, as reported in the media. However, both the allegations and the president’s answers must be properly tested by a relevant, competent and unbiased body,” he said.

Holomisa’s request comes on the heels of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) asking Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate Ramaphosa over a possible breach of the Executive Members’ Code of Ethics.

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The DA and ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba have called on Sars and the SA Reserve Bank to probe the theft, saying the incident had raised concern in the public domain relating to tax compliance in the transaction that led to the president acquiring $4m (R62m) in cash.

Ramaphosa finds himself at a crossroads and in the firing line over a contentious ANC step-aside regulation as party members will either expect the NPA to investigate why the president was in possession of such a large sum of foreign currency and did not report the theft, or they may even pursue a private prosecution to get the answers they want.

The ANC National Working Committee met yesterday but it was unclear if the issue was on the agenda, with national spokesperson Pule Mabe saying earlier in the day that it was unlikely that the matter would be discussed. Mabe had not commented further at the time of publication.

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The president on Sunday used his closing address to the Limpopo ANC conference in Polokwane to respond to allegations made against him by Fraser in an affidavit to police last week.

He said he had not stolen money from anywhere, including from taxpayers, and would co-operate with law-enforcement agencies who were investigating a case of theft, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice against him.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said: “Keeping so much money is also criminal, or suspect in terms of our law. It creates a suspicion of money laundering. It is worse when that cash is in a foreign currency,” Seepe said.

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Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said ANC members realised the seriousness of the allegations, which he described as going beyond factionalism.

THE MERCURY

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