Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala Farmgate: Why was FNB silent about massive unexplained deposits?

File Image: IOL

File Image: IOL

Published Jun 7, 2022



A crime, like an onion, has many layers to it.

The alleged criminal activities by Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of the Republic of South Africa, is no different.

Our country has been seized with the first criminal allegations made against a sitting head of state since the dawn of democracy.

The potential damage this may cause to the institution of the Presidency is catastrophic. Yet our democratic institutions will once again be tested by how fast the police and the judiciary act in this alleged crime.

Justice delayed is justice denied, and justice would be denied to our democracy and people if there is any delay. The president, like any other pauper in this country, is equal before the law.

By now, even the poorest of the poor know that a robbery took place at their president’s palace on Phala Phala farm in Limpopo. It is not an alleged robbery because the Presidency itself confirmed the crime. This is the first layer of the crime.

The second layer is the alleged cover-up of the crime, thereby defeating the ends of justice, the kidnapping and potential money laundering and corruption.

In this respect, head of the presidential protection unit, Major-General Wally Rhoode, has a case to answer.

The third layer of this crime is the president’s own involvement. He knew about the housebreaking and robbery, we are told. What he did next is now subject it to a Hawks investigation.

Yet another layer of this crime that has yet to be mentioned is the role that the banks played.

In paragraph 13.18 of his statement to the police, Arthur Fraser writes:

“The alleged suspects had thereafter commenced spending the stolen loot on various high-end purchases and cash deposits into bank accounts.”

In an attached copy of a handwritten note compiled by one of the investigators in the team, constituted by Major General Rhoode, marked “AF 16” on Fraser’s statement, must be assumed to be FNB deposits.

The note is marked “R150k x2”, then under “5/3/2020” a total amount of “R900 000” is recorded and furthermore “10/3/2020” and “11/3/2020” each have R1 million under them.

In total, the column on the note, headed “FNB”, has an amount of R3.5 million.

Specifically in paragraph 13.20, Fraser writes: “On 15 February 2020 [person’s name] transferred R300 000 (Three Hundred Thousand Rand) from his Gold Cheque Account held at First National Bank to Barons, Culemborg, and a further R415 000-00 (Four Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Rand), again to Barons, Culemborg, on 16 February 2020. Copies of the transactions are annexed hereto respectively marked 'AF 18' and 'AF 19'.”

This is enough said to suspect money laundering for now.

Everybody is quiet about the role that FNB played in this and the possibility that money laundering could have been facilitated through the bank.

An FNB Gold Cheque Account is an account on one of the lower notches.

The burglary at the president’s Phala Phala palace took place on February 9.

In six days, large sums of money are deposited into this resident of Lower Crossroads’ bank account. FNB raises no red flags.

He then buys a car, thereby “cleaning the money”, and again FNB raises no red flags.

There is a layer in this crime that FNB must answer for.

We have yet to hear an explanation from FNB on why it allowed for irregular deposits of these amounts to be made and then high-end purchases, in cash, to be made.

For too long banks in South Africa have picked on certain individuals and not raised concerns of legitimate questionable deposits and transactions, especially where crime is really involved.

Crime is high in South Africa because some of the most sophisticated criminals sit in bank boardrooms.

* Michael Mayalo is the executive chairperson of the Youth Business Chain

** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Independent Media.