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• NICOLA DANIELS
THE Namibian men accused of stealing millions of unexplained United States (US) dollars kept at South African president Cyril Ramaphosa's Limpopo farm went on a shopping spree in Cape Town.
They spent their loot on high-performance luxury vehicles, according to former State Security Agency (SSA) director general Arthur Fraser's affidavit.
Fraser lodged a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa at Rosebank Police Station last week over the money allegedly stolen by five Namibians who allegedly conspired with his domestic worker in February 2020.
Ramaphosa allegedly kept large sums of money in foreign currency, estimated to be US$4 million and US$8m (between R62 million and R120 million), 'concealed' under a mattress and couches at his farm in Bela-Bela, in the Limpopo province.
In his affidavit, Fraser said: “The mere fact that president Ramaphosa had large undisclosed sums of foreign currency in the form of US dollars concealed in his furniture at his Phala Phala residence is prima facie proof of money laundering in contravention of Section 4 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act No 121 of 1998 (Poca).”
After the alleged perpetrators “ransacked” the president's residence, they immediately headed to Cape Town, according to Fraser.
“The stolen US dollars were exchanged for South African rands at an informal foreign exchange service ordinarily run by persons of Chinese nationality.”
Once the money was converted to rands, the shopping spree for high-end items and bank transfers allegedly commenced.
According to the documents, one of the suspects transferred R300 000 from his Gold Cheque Account held at First National Bank to Barons, Culemborg, and a further R415 000 again to Barons, Culemborg, on 16 February, 2020.
Fraser said a red Volkswagen GTI was subsequently registered in the suspect's name. Another suspect purchased a 2019 Ford Ranger 2.0TDCi Wildtrak 4x4 bakkie.
Fraser provided copies of all the relevant documents and pictures of some of the suspects with their new vehicles.
Ramaphosa only publicly disclosed and confirmed the crime after Fraser approached the police. His statement said the matter was reported to the Presidential Protection Unit of the South African Police Service for investigation, and denied he was involved in any criminal conduct.
He said the money was from the sale of game.
Addressing the Limpopo elective conference on Sunday, Ramaphosa again denied committing a crime, repeatedly saying he did not steal any taxpayer money.
“I want to reaffirm I was not involved in any criminal conduct. I pledge my full cooperation to any investigation. I would like to say I'm a farmer, I'm in the cattle business and the game business, and through that business, which has been declared in parliament and all over, I buy and sell animals.
“Sometimes people buy these animals. Sales are sometimes through cash, sometimes through transfers. Some of the people who are offshore customers and some who are local, they come through and buy animals, and some of them also come to hunt on the farm,” Ramaphosa said.
“So what that is being reported was a clear business transaction of selling animals. The amount involved is far less than what is being reported … I have never stolen money from anywhere, be it from our taxpayers (or anywhere else). I have never done so and will never do so.”
The ANC referred the Cape Times to Ramaphosa's speech.
Zwelinzima Ndevu, the director of the School of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, says: “These are very serious allegations as they involve criminal activities which the president may have had knowledge of and never officially opened a case about.
“If true, it would therefore mean Ramaphosa committed a crime. It will have reputational risk for a senior ruling party official to be accused of this.
“I do believe that this is part of the strategy by those who want the president not to have a second term.”
Political analyst professor Sipho Seepe says the ANC and the media have double standards.
“We already see some media trying to shield the president. Had this been somebody like former president Zuma or Duduzane, everyone would be calling for them to be held to account just because there is a suggestion that the law has been broken.
“So far the Democratic Alliance are the only ones suggesting a law has been broken . . . president Ramaphosa is saying he did not open a case because he did not want to cause panic. That's not good enough. The law must be applied without fear or favour.”
– Cape Times via IOL