Phala Phala scandal likely to have tongues wagging even in 2024

todayJanuary 5, 2023 4

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While questions remain on the criminality that took place at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s controversial Phala Phala farm, some of the country’s biggest and most crucial public entities have exonerated the statesman.
The alleged theft of foreign currency at the president’s Limpopo farm in 2020 has cast a dark cloud over Ramaphosa and his administration.
It seems that the widely publicised theft will still haunt the President even in the year of elections.
The president made headlines after former spy boss Arthur Fraser put him on blast, accusing him of using state resources to conceal the multi-million dollar theft.
It emerged that Sudanese businessman, Hazim Musatafa, allegedly paid $580 000 to Ramaphosa in cash at his farm for 20 buffalos.
This subsequently led to the alleged theft of the buffalo proceeds.
Many political heads took the fight to institutions such as the South African Reserve Bank and the Office of the Public Protector, in a bid to get to the bottom of this matter.
The Reserve Bank, which started its probe in June 2022, cleared Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing last August.
The institution said it could not conclude that the Exchange Control regulations were breached.
It found that there was no perfected transaction by Ntaba Nyoni Estates, Ramaphosa’s business entity that received $580 000 for the Phala Phala buffaloes from Mustafa, or the President, which therefore meant that Ramaphosa or Ntaba Nyoni had no legal obligation to have declared the foreign currency under the exchange control regulations.

Public Protector clears Ramaphosa
Many, who had pinned their hopes on the Office of the Public Protector in getting the President to account for Phala Phala, were disappointed when advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, who was the acting Public Protector at the time, let Ramaphosa off the hook.
Her office found that there was no evidence indicating that the President either works at Phala Phala or received remunerations from the farm.
A number of political parties including the EFF, DA and ATM rejected the reports with some threatening to take them on review.
They maintain that Ramaphosa violated the Executive Ethics Code in this debacle.
Ramaphosa’s second in charge, Paul Mashatile, however, maintains that findings of the Phala Phala report must be accepted as they are presented.
The Deputy President says state institutions and law enforcement authorities must be allowed to do their work without any undue pressure or any form of interference.
Political analyst, Dr Sam Koma, said the Hawks and police are the only authorities who can and should shed some light on the scandal that has rocked the country.
The work of the police has now led to the arrest of three people, suspected of being linked to the theft.
Siblings, David and Fronlina Joseph alongside their co-accused Imanuwela David face a raft of robbery and theft charges.
The siblings were released on bail, while David who is alleged to have been the mastermind was denied bail by the Bela Bela Magistrates’ Court.
Magistrate Predeshni Ponnan said the alleged mastermind failed to give the court his residential address.

“Accused number one has no fixed address that could be verified with certainty. He further misled this Court regarding ownership of any movable or immovable property. There is a strong possibility that accused number one should he be released on bail, may tamper with or interfere with the investigation or the state witnesses, or destroy or conceal any evidence against him. It is very clear that accused number one has not satisfied this court that the interest of justice permit him to be released from custody. Bail is accordingly denied.”

The defence team in the matter has accused the state of succumbing to political pressure by investigating a crime that happened in 2020.
The matter will return to court in February.
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Written by: Lindiwe Mpanza

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