Johannesburg - The Hawks are investigating allegations that the dollars stolen from President Cyril Ramaphosa's farm didn't come from the sale of game, as alluded earlier by the Presidency in its media statement.
That in fact, the money was smuggled into South Africa by one of Ramaphosa’s advisors and confidantes.
Sunday Independent can exclusively reveal that the advisor, whose name is known to the paper, has become a person of interest in the case by the Hawks as it is alleged that he used his diplomatic passport to smuggle the money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a private jet.
Three sources with intimate knowledge of the investigation believe that after the money was brought into the country, it was stuffed into eight-seater couches and a mattress in Johannesburg before it was transported to Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm in Bela-Bela, Limpopo.
“There are allegations that the money was stuffed in eight-seater couches, one leather and the rest made of fabric, as well as a bed set before it was transported to the farm as new furniture. The domestic worker was allegedly trying to clean the newly-arrived furniture when she stumbled across the money and alerted her brother, who invited his friends to come and steal it before Ramaphosa’s return from an international trip,” the source said.
One of the sources said that the money was still wrapped in plastic when it was stolen, which suggests that it was packed elsewhere.
“If the money was a proceeds of game sales as the Presidency has reported, there is only one place to wrap it the way it was, the bank, and why do you go through the trouble of getting your money wrapped by a bank instead of banking it?”
The other source raised concerns about the fact that the investigators in the case are allegedly being followed and their movements leaked.
“This week, they went to Pollsmoor Prison to interview one of the alleged robbers incarcerated for another crime, and their movement was leaked,” he said.
The Hawks are investigating Ramaphosa and his head of Presidential Protection Services, Wally Rhoode, after former State Security Agency director-general Arthur Fraser opened a criminal case against them at Rosebank police station in Joburg a month ago.
Fraser claimed in his affidavit that Ramaphosa failed to report the robbery of about $4 to $8 million at his farm on February 9, 2020 at any police station. He instead tasked Rhoode to trace the robbers and recover some of the stolen loot.
Fraser claimed the five robbers were tracked and apprehended and allegedly tortured to reveal where they had stashed the stolen money.
It is further claimed that some of the stolen money was recovered and retrieved. The robbers, including Ramaphosa's domestic worker, who was allegedly the one who tipped off the robbers about the money under the mattresses, were paid R150 000 each to buy their silence and not to reveal any information about the theft.
Fraser has met with members of the directorate for priority crime investigation, who are investigating this case and “furnished the Hawks with additional information and details to enable them to do their work”.
Ramaphosa admitted that there was indeed a robbery at his farm but disputed the amount.
He told delegates at the ANC provincial conference in Limpopo weeks ago that the amount was less what than reported.
“The amount involved is far less than the amount which has been reported in the press. Some said it’s R1 billion, some say it’s four million dollars. I want to say it is far less,” Ramaphosa said.
Sunday Independent has been informed that two police officers and Rhoode are under investigation for allegedly kidnapping and torturing the robbers.
A new leaked recording doing the rounds on social media has raised eyebrows and the question again of how much money was stolen from Ramaphosa's farm as his men (recorded on the video) who interrogated the alleged mastermind behind the robbery, Immanuwela David, are heard accusing the Namibian-born robber of stealing $20 million from the President.
In the recording, one of the interrogators can be heard saying: “We know what we are talking (about). It isn't like I am talking sh*t to you, you understand. So the amount was 20 million, am I right?”
Another interrogator can be heard in the recording when the figure of $20m is mentioned saying: “That's correct.” They claimed he put the money into property development.
However, David denies in the recording that he and his men stole $20m from Ramaphosa's farm and referred his interrogators to a newspaper article which states that he allegedly stole $7m. He claims they stole $800 000.
Other sources within the law enforcement agencies believe that the interrogators were Rhoode and Terrence Joubert, a controversial National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) figure, who also gave testimony at the Zondo Commission Inquiry into State Capture.
When Rhoode was charged with a R19-million tender fraud in 2011, Joubert was his co-accused.
Rhoode was head of security for the NPA when the tender was awarded to a security company, Intense Protection and Tourist Services (IPTS), owned by businessperson Muziwandile "Dalo" Nala in 2006 and Joubert was acting head of NPA’s security and risk management in KwaZulu-Natal at the time.
Rhoode, Joubert and another NPA employee were accused of allegedly accepting bribes from Nala in order to award a tender to his company. The pair were released on a R30 000 bail each and the NPA later dropped the charges without a proper explanation, even though they had a State witness who was available when the alleged bribe was paid.
Rhoode left the NPA after the charges were dropped and became the head of the 2010 World Cup security but he was also forced to resign there following another security tender controversy. But Rhoode has maintained that he left the job to join a family business.
He then resurfaced as the head of security for Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign where leaked bank statements showed that he was paid about R1m.
Sources claim that Rhoode allowed Joubert, who was still an NPA employee, to moonlight for the CR17 campaign.
When confronted about the recording on Friday, Joubert denied that he was one of the interrogators but confirmed that he was very close to Rhoode.
“Wally and I have come a long way... We have been to hell and back together but I have nothing to do with the Phala Phala investigation,” Joubert said.
But four NPA employees who listened to the recording and have worked with Joubert for years are adamant it is his voice that they are hearing doing the interrogation.
Joubert also denied that he had a meeting with Ramaphosa to discuss Phala Phala until he was told that there was a photo showing him together with the president. Then he backtracked and said: “The meeting I had with the president, where the photo was taken, was to brief him about state capture, it had nothing to do with the Phala Phala robbery.”
Joubert has taken the NPA to the CCMA after he was fired for allegedly accepting another bribe. He was arrested after he was found with R30 000 cash during a sting operation in Durban. The charges were later dropped after the court found that the police did not follow proper procedures when they set up the sting operation.
But the NPA, armed with the evidence, instituted an internal hearing where Joubert was found guilty and in May, he is challenging his dismissal.
Ramaphosa spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, couldn’t be reached for comment.
The Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Nomthandazo Mbambo, yesterday said: “We shall not comment on details of any ongoing investigation and anyone with information that might assist in any investigation is welcomed to contact our investigators to give statements to that effect.”
NPA spokesperson, Mthunzi Maga, also failed to answer our questions about Joubert.