President Ramaphosa Accused of Farm Robbery Cover-Up
On June 1st, 2022, former spy chief Arthur Fraser opened a criminal case against South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a Johannesburg police station. Ramaphosa stepped into the biggest political office in the southern African country with the promise and optics of being a clean operator. The president has been accused of kidnapping and bribery. He is currently facing the biggest challenge of his presidency.
Fraser is the former director-general of the State Security Agency, South Africa’s spy unit. Fraser, who is deemed a political opponent of Ramaphosa and an ally of former President Jacob Zuma, exposed that around February 9, 2020, a robbery took place at Ramaphosa’s game farm, Phala Phala, located in the province of Limpopo.
It is alleged that a domestic worker named Froliana, employed to work on the farm, discovered large amounts of money hidden in the furniture on the farm. Upon her discovery, Froliana allegedly took photos and videos of the money and sent them to her brother.
Her brother is alleged to have set up a team of robbers who entered Phala Phala by cutting the fence and managed to steal what is claimed to be between $4-8 million.
It is alleged that upon the discovery of the robbery, Ramaphosa reported the matter to the head of the Presidential Protection Unit, Major General Walter Rhoode. The matter was not reported to the police as a theft, with Rhoode reportedly given instructions to track down the people who had stolen the money. Froliana was interrogated until she implicated her brother who she then lured to the farm.
Froliana and her brother were allegedly kept on the farm and interrogated by a group of officials, in a search for answers. It is reported that during their interrogation, they were quizzed for long hours and allowed to sleep for three to four hours.
The group of officials, who may have been either police or intelligence officers, managed to track down the thieves. Upon finding the robbers, they informed officials that they had spent the money and were paid an estimated amount of $10,000 to keep the robbery secret.
One of the outstanding details about the robbery is the fact that Namibian nationals were involved. Allegedly, four of the five thieves were from Namibia. One of them, David Imanuwela, who is assumed by authorities to be the mastermind of the theft, also carries a South African passport.
He was tracked down to Namibia. Reports indicate that Namibian authorities raised red flags when they detected transactions involving large amounts of money. Both the Namibian and South African governments became aware of the robbery and acted in tandem to make sure the story did not become public. The Namibian government, however, has denied any involvement with the matter.
More Insights on the alleged accusations against President Cyril Ramaphosa…
While President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that the robbery did indeed take place, several important questions have yet to be answered. One of the questions posed is regarding the source of the money found at Ramaphosa’s farm and exactly how much money was stolen. The South African Presidency claims that the money is proceeds from the sale of game but has not revealed how much of it was stolen.
Presidential spokesman Vincent Magwenya said, “In the normal course of some [Phala Phala] operations, clients will come in and out, look at game, and buy game, that’s just a normal thing.
During this particular time, the transactions were not necessarily from an auction, it was just a transaction that took place at the farm. And there were some cash payments made — some clients would use the normal banking platforms, others would pay cash.”
Questions regarding money laundering and tax evasion have risen with members of the Economic Freedom Fighters blatantly labeling Ramaphosa a criminal during a parliamentary session.
Another question raised is how aware was Ramaphosa of the robbery and the actions taken to find the thieves. This is with regard to the possible crimes of failing to report the crime to the police, kidnapping, and bribery.
Ramaphosa has faced calls from South African opposition parties to step down. Ramaphosa’s party, the African National Congress, has a step aside policy. This policy applies to party members who are facing criminal charges.
If Ramaphosa is charged and has to appear in court as a defendant, he will have to step aside until the end of a trial. This will possibly ruin his chances of participating in the ANC’s National Elective Conference and prevent him from retaining the presidency. The various allegations surrounding the theft and its cover-up could not have come at a worse time for Ramaphosa.