South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa says two of the five Namibians accused of breaking into his farm in February 2020 were assaulted by guards when they first broke into a farm close to his in the Limpopo province.
The five are Imanuwela David, Umbanus Shaumbwako, Petrus Muhekeni, Erkki Shikongo and Petrus Afrikaner.
They are accused of breaking into Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm, where they stole US$4m in cash.
The Public Protector’s Office asked Ramaphosa to respond to more than 33 questions regarding the money found hidden in a leather sofa at his farm.
Quoting a source in the Public Protector’s Office, The Sunday Times says Ramaphosa said some guards detained the alleged thieves after breaking into a neighbour’s farm thinking it was Phala Phala.
“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. The money was with others who managed to escape,” the source told The Sunday Times.
It was unclear which two Namibians were assaulted. Still, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is looking into the police officers involved in the incident. The Hawks are checking out Fraser’s claims of kidnapping.
Ramaphosa is also said to have denied involvement with the raids carried out in Cape Town by the head of the Presidential Protection Unit, Major-General Walley Rhoode.
The former correctional services boss Arthur Fraser, who spilled the beans on the farm break-in, accused Rhoode of illegal arrest and torture of the Namibians.
Fraser said Rampahosa paid the Namibians for them to keep quiet about the incident after they had recovered some of the money.
The Sunday Times, however, says Ramaphosa denied paying any of the men to keep quiet. The paper also says that Ramaphosa denied that they had recovered some money.
It is not only Ramaphosa who denied kidnapping and torturing the alleged thieves but Rhoode too.
In his response to the Public Protector, Rhoode says he has no knowledge of any money or items derived from the proceeds of the money stolen from the farm being recovered.
“Furthermore, I do not know 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.”
Rhoode said the former South African police commissioner Khehla Sitole permitted him to travel to Namibia with Ramaphosa’s envoy to Africa, Bejani Chauke, in June 2020.
According to Rhoode, they met Namibian top police officers at the no-man’s land before they were flown in a police helicopter to Windhoek.
Once in Windhoek, Rhoode claims President Hage Geingob accommodated them at State House, where they spent a night.
According to the Sunday Times, it turns out that Rhoode said he did not sit in the meeting with Geingob but that Chauke did.
Geingob has denied that he had anything to do with Ramaphosa’s stolen millions that ended in Namibia.
A few weeks ago, The Sunday Independent quoted Presidential spokesperson, Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, saying Geingob did not send a helicopter to fetch Rhoode and Chauke near “no man’s land”.
According to the paper, Hengari also said that it was not true that Rhoode and Chauke were accommodated at State House, where they spent the night.
Hengari told the paper that Geingob “had made exhaustive and detailed public statements on the matter”.
He also reportedly said that the police Inspector-General, Sebastian Ndeitunga, and Prosecutor-General, Martha Imalwa, had also released statements on the issue.
“It is concerning that your questions are mischief-laden in that you suggest that the information you supposedly obtained from sources ‘implicate’ President Geingob.
“Apart from the fact that no criminal offence is suggested from your questions, the criminal offences allegedly committed in relation to the Phala Phala matter occurred in South Africa.
“To the best of our knowledge, no criminal offence was committed in Namibia; hence it troubles us as to why and how you suggest President Geingob is ‘implicated’ in this matter. Perhaps you seek to sensationalise this case by adding a cross-border element, despite no factual basis justifying this sensation seeking,” Hengari was quoted saying.