Cape Town - As South African president Cyril Ramaphosa faces accusations of alleged criminal activities on his Phala Phala farm and violating international money transfer laws of the US, could he be next on the list of high-profile heads of state to be imprisoned?
According to an investigation carried out by the Daily News, the US Code (USC) title 18 of 1957, indicates that the the Ramaphosa and his co-accused have breached the US laws.
The USC title 18 which focuses on money laundering and engaging of monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, states:
“(a) Whoever, in any of the circumstances set forth in subsection (d), knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10 000 and is derived from specified unlawful activity, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
“(b) (1)Except as provided in paragraph (2), the punishment for an offence under this section is a fine under title 18, United States Code, or imprisonment for not more than 10 years or both.”
With the international violations still under investigation, back home in South Africa the president faces allegations of illegal transactions from former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser.
Meanwhile, it is not unheard of for heads of state or former presidents to be imprisoned.
Former president Jacob Zuma was forced to hand himself over to the police following a Constitutional Court order finding him guilty of contempt of court and sentencing him to 15 months in prison.
Also on the African continent, former head of state in Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, spent some time in jail after being arrested in 1995 for being part of a planned coup.
In South Korea, five former presidents were convicted starting in the 1990s with a wave of political prosecutions.
Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian was sentenced to life for corruption but later released on medical parole after completing six years.
Furthermore Brazil’s Luiz ‘Lula’ da Silva who served as the nations 35th president from 2003 to 2010, was jailed in 2018 for accepting bribes, with former President Michel Temer convicted a year later for accepting millions in bribes.