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Crime Intelligence funds used for ‘farmgate’ cover-up

President Cyril Ramaphosa is accused of benefiting from the usage of a Crime Intelligence Fund to track the robbers at his farm. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa is accused of benefiting from the usage of a Crime Intelligence Fund to track the robbers at his farm. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 26, 2022


Johannesburg - A secret Crime Intelligence fund was used to finance the clandestine operations set up to trace the thieves who stole millions of dollars from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in February 2020 and to recover some of the money left over from their ill-begotten loot, a Sunday Independent investigation has revealed.

The Sunday Independent can exclusively confirm that 16 members of the elite special task force were also deployed to Ramaphosa’s farm in Bela-Bela, Limpopo, after the theft, at a staggering cost to the taxpayers of almost R2 million per month.

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The number of the force was reduced to 8 three months later after General Sam Setlhabane, the divisional commissioner for protection services, wrote a letter complaining that his department was spending money on something he knew nothing about.

“We were forced to pull out the elite special task force from the President’s farm six months later because nobody could give a reason why our members were forced to guard Ramaphosa’s private business which was costing taxpayers a fortune,” said a senior police general, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

The general has alleged that not all the top police brass knew about the robbery at Ramaphosa’s farm.

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“Everything was done in secret, money from the secret account was used and not everybody knew why,” he added.

The money from the secret account was also used “to take good care of the chosen few who were secretly working on tracing the suspects”, he alleged, adding that some of the informants who helped in this clandestine operation were paid from the secret crime intelligence account.

“A state grabber was used to trace and ping some of the robbers after a fictitious case was opened that the men were involved in drug trafficking. It was only after a house was raided in Milnerton, Cape Town where four men were arrested that some of the police, who were duped to believe that they were investigating a case of drug trafficking, were told to search the house for money - that they realised that they were misled.”

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In one of the recordings - following the capture of the suspects, the alleged mastermind, Immanuel David, who was being interviewed in a process to find out “how much is left” from his share of the spoils - confirmed that the police raided their house in Milnerton and even broke down the ceiling looking for the money.

David’s interviewer, who was accompanied by Wally Rhoode, the head of Presidential Protection Service, claims, in the recording, that they know that David allegedly smuggled $20 million of the loot to Namibia.

“The amount is 20 million. I know what I am talking about,” the interviewer insisted to David and Rhoode can be heard saying ”that’s correct.”

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The interviewer claims that David used the money for a property development after hooking up with a senior politician from Namibia, whose identity is mentioned in the recording.

But David denied that he smuggled so much money, insisting that it would be “stupid” to carry such an amount in a bag.

Ramaphosa spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, yesterday said he couldn’t comment on the issue of state resources being used for a clandestine investigation of the president’s farm robbery.

“We will let the Hawks investigate the matter and don’t want to make any comment,” he said.

The police spokesperson, Colonel Athlenda Mathe, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Earlier in the week, DA leader, John Steenhuisen, called a press conference and announced that the opposition party has written to the FBI asking them to investigate Ramaphosa for possible money laundering.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said they had requested the FBI to investigate President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

“We have written to the United States FBI to request that they investigate allegations of possible money laundering by the president.

“Specifically, we have requested that the FBI considers investigating the source of the funds and whether the money was brought into South Africa legitimately and declared to the appropriate authorities.

“We have recommended that the ledgers or journals which would have recorded the alleged sale of wild game at auction be requested from the president, to determine the identities of those involved in the suspicious cash transactions.

“A cash transaction within South Africa involving $4 million is deeply suspicious, and more so since the cash was then hidden in furniture, and its theft was investigated off the record and covered up,” he said during the press conference held in Johannesburg.

David entered Namibia illegally on June 12, 2020, after canoeing through the Orange River.

He was arrested two days later in the capital, Windhoek for entering Namibia illegally and contravening the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

He spent eight months in a Namibian jail and pleaded guilty to two charges on November 13, 2020, one for entering Namibia illegally and secondly, for failing to declare goods he brought into the country.

He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in jail or N$5000 for account one and 24 months in jail or N$15 000 for count two.

He was also forced to forfeit his luxury watches, Rolex worth N€280 000 and Tag Heuer worth N$28 000, as well as a gold chain work N$163 000 and $1 100 cash.

He was given 48 hours to leave Namibia and returned to South Africa the following day.

The Namibian government claimed that they sought legal mutual assistance from South Africa to return the seized items and assets to South Africa but all in vain.

Justice minister spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri, and his NPA counterpart, Mthunzi Mhaga, claimed they couldn’t trace such a request from Namibia.

But the spokesperson for the justice ministry in Namibia, Simon Idipo, confirmed to The Sunday Independent on Friday that they have evidence, in the form of a receipt from a courier company, that they did seek legal assistance from South Africa but they were ignored.

“We are going to release a full detailed statement, explaining what we went through to get legal assistance from South Africa and produce the evidence we have to prove our case, early next week,” he said.

The robbery came to light three weeks ago when former state security DG, Arthur Fraser, opened a criminal case against Ramaphosa and Rhoode at Rosebank Police Station in Johannesburg.

In his affidavit, Fraser accused Ramaphosa of failing to report the robbery at any police station and instead asked Rhoode to trace the robbers and retrieve their loot.

Fraser says the five robbers were tracked and apprehended and allegedly tortured to reveal where they had stashed the stolen money.

And that after some of the stolen money was retrieved.

The robbers, including Ramaphosa’s domestic worker who was allegedly the instigator of the robbery, were paid R150 000 each to buy their silence and not to reveal any information about the theft.

Fraser met with members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, who are investigating this case, last week and “furnished the Hawks with additional information and details to enable them to do their work”.