STARTLING revelations by former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general, Arthur Fraser, in an affidavit deposed to the South African Police Services (SAPS), about an undisclosed sum of money, believed to be millions of US dollars, that was stolen from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s private farm in the Bela Bela area, has raised serious concerns across the land and brought into question as to how effective the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has been.
This, as now Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, gears up to deliver his final instalment of the State Capture report.
Fraser’s sworn revelations have rocked the country, with many questioning the President’s integrity and where the source of the alleged missing foreign currency emanates.
The keeper of the country’s many secrets, Fraser was denied an opportunity to appear at the commission by Zondo, who said: “Fraser failed to follow the commission’s legal protocols.” But surely, with such a key position as Fraser’s and the information at his disposal, Zondo should have insisted that Fraser present himself to the commission and reveal what he knows as it pertains to State Capture and corruption?
Despite Fraser’s alleged failure to follow the commission’s legal protocols, the commission still had the authority to summons him, which, considering the information contained in his affidavit, was perhaps an oversight (whether deliberate or not will be determined).
Has South Africa therefore been cheated of the truth?
Fraser, on June 1, lodged a complaint with the SAPS against Ramaphosa for allegedly defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping suspects who were allegedly interrogated. Fraser also cited breaches of, inter alia, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) and the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act.
This comes after it emerged that a domestic worker at the President’s residence allegedly discovered cash amounting to be between $4 million and $9 million concealed in the furniture. The domestic worker allegedly went on to conspire with others to steal the cash leading to the President using state organs to recover the cash, as well as paying her and her accomplices, R150 000 each, to conceal the events that had taken place. If true, it amounts to bribery and corruption from the highest order.
Ramaphosa dismissed these claims, saying they were politically motivated. He also claimed that as a farmer, he buys and sells animals, and some of these transactions are cash deals, while others are by bank transfers, suggesting that the cash found at his residence may have been proceeds from such transactions.
That may be, but why stash the money in the furniture?
Are some people more equal than others…
Given these revelations that Fraser has now delivered in an affidavit and not as a witness at the Zondo Commission, perhaps the next logical question is why did then acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo (now Chief Justice) not give Fraser his opportunity to take the stand and testify as to the depth of possible corruption the state has sunk to? For where there’s smoke, there’s surely fire.
We cannot forget how Zondo pulled out all the stops to have former president Jacob Zuma appear before the commission. Zuma’s refusal resulted in his incarceration after several attempts to have Zondo recuse himself in this case.
In his dismissal of Fraser’s bid to appear before the commission, Zondo said Fraser had failed to explain to the commission his reason for failing to follow the commission’s legal protocols, despite communication from the agency granting him access under certain conditions.
Zondo, however, added that Fraser could still assist the commission with its investigative work, despite the lapse in time and the missed opportunity for his oral evidence. So, will Zondo include Fraser’s current claims in his final report?
Will Zondo make recommendations to have a sitting president investigated for alleged money laundering?
Aiding and abetting
According to the contents of Fraser’s submission, Ramaphosa may be complicit in aiding and abetting the alleged criminals, in that upon catching the assailants, he paid them R150 000 each to keep the matter quiet. He even re-employed the domestic worker.
All this allegedly to cover up evidence that he may have breached South Africa’s foreign currency and tax laws. According to the country’s tax laws, there are limits on the amount of currency that can be brought into South Africa and taken out. For cash in South African Rand, the limit is R25 000. For combinations of cash in other currencies, the limit is $10 000 (or equivalent). Any amount higher than this should be declared on entry to South Africa.
According to the country’s tax laws, South African residents can have in their possession cash to the value of R1 million per adult and R200 000 per child under the age of 18 per calendar year out of South Africa. Prior clearance from an authorised dealer (on official letterhead) must be produced to Customs as proof. Without such clearance, only an amount equalling R25 000 is allowed per person.
Again, this prefaces more questions. Is there a case of tax evasion to be laid at the feet of the President of the country? Will there be a recommendation that the SA Police Service investigate Ramaphosa for covering up an alleged crime, albeit against him?
Customs officers may search and seize currency in terms of Regulation 3(3) and 3(6) of the Exchange Control Regulations. With all these allegations made by Fraser, customs officers would be justified to search the President’s Phala Phala farm.
And what of the South African banks and their role in facilitating the transfer of substantial sums of money between South Africa and Namibia accounts of the alleged perpetrators?
There are more questions than answers in this story at present.
To date, the President says he cannot comment as the matter is under investigation. What he fails to declare is when this investigation started. Legally, there is nothing preventing him from being forthright with the facts and presenting evidence to the contrary - so what’s the hold-up?
This is not a matter of politicking but of integrity … the country is concerned.