The suspects were arrested on Sunday and Monday on charges of housebreaking and theft.
The accused central figure in the theft, Floriana Joseph, who was employed as a housekeeper at Ramaphosa’s game farm, and her partner in crime, Imanuwela David, are facing four counts of money laundering, conspiracy to commit housebreaking with intent to steal, theft, and housebreaking with intent to steal.
National Director of Public Prosecutions State advocate Nkhetheni Munyai asked the court presided over by magistrate Predeshni Poonan that the pair be remanded in custody so that an interpreter be made available as the accused were foreign nationals.
Arguing before the court, Joseph’s attorney, Mike Mokgobu, pleaded with the court to instruct the police to make arrangements for Joseph to care for and breastfeed her child while in custody.
“My client has a child who has a serious condition, and we are instructed that the child cannot be fed anything other than the mother’s milk, which requires that she directly breastfeed the child. We therefore ask the court to allow the police to ensure that the child is breastfed three times a day, said Makgobu.
Addressing Magistrate Poonan, David stated that he did not wish to be represented by Legal Aid and sought an opportunity to seek legal representation from his attorneys of choice.
Poonan agreed to the requests made by the State attorney and the accused for legal representation, to make available an interpreter, and to allow Joseph to feed her child while in custody. She also granted the application for the media to have access to all proceedings, adding that the matter was of public interest.
The accused are expected back in court later this week, on Friday, November 10.
Speaking to the media, Limpopo spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, said Joseph was the mastermind behind the theft.
“Accused number two (David) was not familiar with the place at the time of the theft ... A night before the theft, they broke into the wrong house in search of the dollars that were later stolen at the president’s house. He was only successful the following day when he committed housebreaking at Phala Phala farm. He did so with the help of accused number one (Joseph),” Malabi-Dzhangi explained.
She also stated that due to the ongoing investigations and the expected further arrests, the charge sheet could not be immediately disclosed, and they were satisfied with all the charges.
The Phala Phala saga, which has tainted Ramaphosa’s credibility and that of the police, was exposed by Independent Media in a 2022 Sunday Independent exclusive, sparking a judicial inquiry after former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid criminal charges of money laundering against Ramaphosa and his head of security, General Wally Rhoode, at the Rosebank police station on June 1, 2022.
A parliamentary panel led by Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo found that Ramaphosa had a case to answer and that he may have violated a number of laws.
“In light of all the information placed before the Panel, we conclude that this information discloses, prima facie, that the President may have committed: 264.1. A serious violation of Section 96(2)(a) 264.2. A serious violation of Section 34(1) of PRECCA 264.3. A serious misconduct in that the President violated Section 96(2)(b) by acting in a way that is inconsistent with his office. 264.4. A serious misconduct in that the President violated Section 96(2)(b) by exposing himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private business of the Constitution,” read the report.
However, the Public Protector cleared Ramaphosa, with advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, who at the time was acting in office, exonerated Ramaphosa. Gcaleka is now set to defend her ruling in court after the Hola Bon Renaissance (HBR) Foundation launched a bid to overturn her report.
The SA Reserve Bank (SARB) also found that Ramaphosa was not legally entitled to the cash, but it also found that since the transaction of the 20 buffalo purchase was not “perfected”, as the foreign businessman never received delivery of the buffalo, there was no legal obligation on Ramaphosa or his Ntaba Nyoni entity to have declared the foreign currency under exchange control regulations.