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HomeNEWSRamaphosa, Rhoode reject Fraser’s Phala Phala claims

Ramaphosa, Rhoode reject Fraser’s Phala Phala claims

In separate submissions to public protector, the president and his security head take issue with key elements of the accusations by the former spy boss



It took almost a month for President Cyril Ramaphosa to inform his head of security that money had been stolen from Phala Phala in an audacious housebreaking that is now threatening to cut short his political career.

A statement by the head of Presidential Protection Services (PPS), Maj Gen Walther “Wally” Rhoode, which was given to the office of the public protector, reveals that even though Ramaphosa reported the security breach to him on February 10 2020, a day after if happened, he only disclosed the following month that money had apparently been stolen.

“For the remaining days of February 2020, the president attended to several commitments across South Africa. On March 2 2020 the president called me to his residence in Hyde Park where he informed me that money from the sale of animals was missing from his residence at the farm. The president did not indicate the amount of money that was missing,” Rhoode says in the statement.
Rhoode’s statement details events that followed the break-in at the Limpopo game farm. However, he disputes many claims made by former spy boss Arthur Fraser, who first made the Phala Phala burglary public early in June and has opened a case against Rhoode and Ramaphosa.
The Sunday Times has not seen Ramaphosa’s responses to questions from the public protector about Phala Phala, but an insider said that he, too, denies accusations that the suspects were illegally detained and that he violated tax laws.

Ramaphosa is under growing pressure from within and outside his party to come clean on what happened during the break-in two years ago.

On Friday, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, referred a motion by the African Transformation Movement (ATM) for a parliamentary inquiry into Phala Phala to an independent panel. The panel will assess the views of constitutional and legal experts to determine if Ramaphosa has a case to answer and whether action should be taken against him.

Opposition parties met this week to discuss plans to push for Ramaphosa’s impeachment.

In his statement, Rhoode says Ramaphosa first informed him of the Phala Phala break-in while they were in Addis Ababa. On his return to SA on February 11 Ramaphosa had numerous engagements, including the state of the nation address on February 13, attending the tabling of the country’s budget and other parliamentary matters.

Rhoode’s statement to acting public protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, says he treated the break-in as a security breach and a threat to Ramaphosa’s life and that of his family. He said four PPS personnel were sent to assess the breach and protect the premises.

Rhoode says the team found two security cameras had been tampered with and there was a half-open window. But the house was locked and no-one was there who could let them in.

The president has declined the permanent deployment of PPS personnel and technology at the farm on the basis that state resources should not be spent on his personal property, especially when he is not always there
Maj Gen Wally Rhoode
“It bears mentioning that contrary to my advice, the president has declined the permanent deployment of PPS personnel and technology at the farm on the basis that state resources should not be spent on his personal property, especially when he is not always there,” the statement says.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Mangwenya, declined to comment this week on why the president had not wanted a permanent security detail on the farm. “As you are aware, the matter remains under investigation by the office of the PP [public protector] and the Hawks. The presidency will not comment until the investigations have been concluded,” he said.

An insider said that in his response to the public protector, Ramaphosa says the suspected thieves were first detained by guards on a neighbouring farm that they broke into by mistake, thinking it was Phala Phala.

“The president’s version is that people heard about money at a farm,” the source said.

“They identified the wrong farm and only came to Phala Phala later. By that time the security guards of the other farm were already looking for them. They found two of them and assaulted them. They let them go because they didn’t have any stolen items with them. The money was with others who managed to escape.”

In his response to the public protector, Ramaphosa is said to distance himself from raids that Fraser says took place in Cape Town, and denies bribing suspects to make the matter go away. He also denies that money was recovered from the suspects.

The source said Ramaphosa discloses the name of the person who paid dollars to buy animals at the farm.

In Fraser’s version of events, five men — David Imanuwela, Umbanus Shaumbwako, Petrus Muhekeni, Erkki Shikongo and Petrus Afrikaner — broke into the farm, made off with at least $4m in cash and went on a spending spree on vehicles, properties and other assets.

Fraser accuses Rhoode of taking illegal action to find the suspects and retrieve the cash, but in his statement Rhoode denies this. He dismisses Fraser’s claims as hearsay and details how he went about interviewing a temporary employee at the farm and her brother, who provided several leads.

“I have no knowledge of any money or items derived from the proceeds of the money stolen from the farm being recovered,” Rhoode says. “Furthermore I do not have any knowledge of a referral being made to the Asset Forfeiture Unit in connection with this matter. I have no knowledge of any person, myself included, kidnapping, torturing or paying bribes to the alleged culprits in order to buy their silence in connection with this matter.”

Play Video
Ramaphosa grilled by journalists on #farmgate; responds with ‘due process must be followed’
Journalists repeatedly asked President Cyril Ramaphosa questions regarding the allegations surrounding his Phala Phala farm. #ramaphosa #cyril #farmgate
TimesLIVE Video
Rhoode says that with the authorisation of the then police commissioner Khehla Sitole he accompanied Ramaphosa’s envoy to Africa, Bejani Chauke, on an official trip to Namibia in June 2020 when Chauke had a meeting with President Hage Geingob.

He was not present during the meeting and has no knowledge of what was discussed.

(Sitole was quoted in the Sunday Independent last week as denying any knowledge of the security breach at the farm; Rhoode had not told him about it. He told that newspaper that when he authorised a trip for Rhoode it was for him to act as the president’s driver, and not as a driver for Chauke.)

Rhoode no longer reports directly to the national police commissioner but to the divisional commissioner of protection and security services, in what is viewed as an attempt at damage control.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is also probing the conduct of police officers involved in the incident while the Hawks are still investigating Fraser’s allegations of defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping.

The Sunday Times has not seen Ramaphosa’s responses to questions from the public protector about Phala Phala, but an insider said that he, too, denies accusations that the suspects were illegally detained and that he violated tax laws. 

Ramaphosa is under growing pressure from within and outside his party to come clean on what happened during the break-in two years ago.

On Friday, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, referred a motion by the African Transformation Movement (ATM) for a parliamentary inquiry into Phala Phala to an independent panel. The panel will assess the views of constitutional and legal experts to determine if Ramaphosa has a case to answer and whether action should be taken against him.

Opposition parties met this week to discuss plans to push for Ramaphosa’s impeachment.

In his statement, Rhoode says Ramaphosa first informed him of the Phala Phala break-in while they were in Addis Ababa. On his return to SA  on February 11 Ramaphosa had numerous engagements, including  the state of the nation address on February 13, attending the tabling of the country’s budget and other parliamentary matters.

Rhoode’s statement to  acting public protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, says he treated the break-in as a security breach and a threat to Ramaphosa’s life and that of his family. He said four PPS personnel were sent to assess the breach and protect the premises.

Rhoode says the team found two security cameras had been tampered with and there was a half-open window. But the house was locked and no-one was there who could let them in. 

The president has declined the permanent deployment of PPS personnel and technology at the farm on the basis that state resources should not be spent on his personal property, especially when he is not always there

Maj Gen Wally Rhoode

“It bears mentioning that contrary to my advice, the president has declined the permanent deployment of PPS personnel and technology at the farm on the basis that state resources should not be spent on his personal property, especially when he is not always there,” the statement says.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Mangwenya, declined to comment this week on why the president had not wanted a permanent security detail on the farm. “As you are aware, the matter remains under investigation by the office of the PP [public protector] and the Hawks. The presidency will not comment until the investigations have been concluded,”  he said. 

An insider said that in his response to the public protector, Ramaphosa says the suspected thieves were first detained by guards on a neighbouring farm that they broke into by mistake, thinking it was Phala Phala.

“The president’s version is that people heard about money at a farm,” the source said.

“They identified the wrong farm and only came to Phala Phala later. By that time the security guards of the other farm were already looking for them. They found two of them and assaulted them. They let them go because they didn’t have any stolen items with them. The money was with others who managed to escape.”

In his response to the public protector, Ramaphosa is said to distance himself from raids that Fraser says took  place in Cape Town, and denies bribing suspects to make the matter go away. He also denies that money was recovered from the suspects.

The source said Ramaphosa discloses  the name of the person who paid dollars to buy animals at the farm. 

In Fraser’s version of events, five men — David Imanuwela, Umbanus Shaumbwako, Petrus Muhekeni, Erkki Shikongo and Petrus Afrikaner —  broke into the farm,  made off with at least $4m in cash and went on a spending spree on vehicles, properties and other assets.

Fraser accuses Rhoode of taking illegal action to find the suspects and retrieve the cash, but in his statement Rhoode denies this. He dismisses Fraser’s claims as hearsay and details how he went about interviewing a temporary employee at the farm and her brother, who provided several leads. 

“I have no knowledge of any money or items derived from the proceeds of the money stolen from the farm being recovered,” Rhoode says. “Furthermore I do not  have any knowledge of a referral being made to the Asset Forfeiture Unit in connection with this matter.  I have no knowledge of any person, myself included, kidnapping, torturing or paying bribes to the alleged culprits in order to buy their silence in connection with this matter.”

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.523.0_en.html#goog_1501602524Play Video

Ramaphosa grilled by journalists on #farmgate; responds with ‘due process must be followed’

Journalists repeatedly asked President Cyril Ramaphosa questions regarding the allegations surrounding his Phala Phala farm. #ramaphosa #cyril #farmgate

Rhoode says that with the authorisation of the then police commissioner Khehla Sitole he accompanied Ramaphosa’s envoy to Africa, Bejani Chauke, on an official trip to Namibia in June 2020 when Chauke had a meeting with President Hage Geingob.

He was not present during the meeting and has no knowledge of what was discussed.

(Sitole was quoted in the Sunday Independent last week as denying any knowledge of the security breach at the farm;  Rhoode had not told him about it. He told that newspaper that when he authorised a trip for Rhoode it was for him to act as the president’s driver, and not as a driver for Chauke.)

Rhoode no longer reports directly to the national police commissioner but to the divisional commissioner of protection and security services, in what is viewed as an attempt at damage control. 

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is also probing the conduct of police officers involved in the incident while the Hawks are still investigating Fraser’s allegations of defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping.

–Sunday Times

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