President Cyril Ramaphosa is in the middle of a political storm following allegations that he was involved in various criminal activities resulting from a theft at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo in 2020. Many questions around the allegations have arisen and Briefly News takes a closer look at some of the crimes that were allegedly committed.
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Money laundering, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and abusing state resources are some of the allegations that have been levelled against President Cyril Ramaphosa. The claims were brought forward by former State Security Agency head Arthur Fraser, who lodged a criminal complaint against the sitting president.
In an affidavit, Fraser stated that Ramaphosa was robbed of large sums of cash estimated to have been between $4 million and $8 million (R62 million and R124 million) on 9 February 2020 at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo.
Fraser alleged that Ramaphosa did not report the matter to the police, but instead notified the head of the Presidential Protection Unit, Major General Wally Rhode, to find the suspects.
Fraser wrote that on the instruction of the president, Rhode tracked down the suspects after kidnapping a domestic worker who was working with the thieves, and then unlawfully interrogated and bribed them for their silence after the money was retrieved.
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The president is now under intense scrutiny following allegations that several crimes were committed in his name.
Why is Ramaphosa being accused of money laundering?
South African law puts restrictions on how much cash an individual can hold in their household. In addition to having too much cash on hand, Ramaphosa also had foreign currency on his property, which violates the Currency and Exchanges Act of 1933, according to News24.
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South African law permits individuals to have R25 000, or $10 000, on them, and having more than that is considered a criminal offence. When it comes to businesses, the limits are different.
According to the South African Reserve Bank, some businesses can apply to become authorised dealers of foreign exchange. These businesses are only permitted to deal with transactions of up to R1 million per year, with some expectations for the different categories.
The Reserve Bank also requires people who come into South Africa with foreign exchange to get it converted by banks in order to transact in the country.
By definition, money laundering is a process in which people hide or disguise the proceeds of their crime so that they appear to have originated from a legitimate source, according to Standard Bank. Ramaphosa has stated that the money he received came from proceeds from the sale of game, which has people questioning if all sale on the farm was legal.
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However, politicians have argued if Ramaphosa's version is true, then why weren't banks used for the transaction and why was the money given to him in foreign currency?
Did Ramaphosa commit a tax crime by holding millions in cash on his property?
Political leaders such as Mmusi Maimane have questioned if Ramaphosa had declared the money he received from the private sales of the game to the South African Revenue Service. If not, failure to declare these proceeds means that Ramaphosa was not taxed on the millions that were on his property.
According to SARS, the are multiple ways of committing a tax crime, or tax evasion. Not declaring your income to SARS is considered a tax crime. SARS normally requires individuals and businesses to declare their own income and assets through voluntary compliance. So, it would have been the president's responsibility to report the proceeds from the selling of game on his farm.
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If Ramaphosa did not declare these proceeds, then SARS is well within its rights to charge the president with tax evasion. This could result in a prison sentence, or he could be required to pay a fine.
What do the allegations against Ramaphosa mean for his presidency in the ANC?
In 2017, the African National Congress introduced the step-aside policy, which requires any member of the organisation who has been charged with a criminal offence to step down from their position until they are cleared by a court of law, according to Mail & Guardian.
With Ramaphosa now being accused of very serious crimes, the question of whether he will be asked to step aside as the ANC president has been brought up. According to the national chairperson of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, Ramaphosa will not be asked to step aside because no criminal charges have been laid against him, just a criminal complaint.
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According to TimesLIVE, Mantashe stated that Ramaphosa was actually a victim of a crime in this case. He went on to further say that the ANC will not require Ramaphosa to step aside until all the investigations from SARS, the reserve bank and the Hawks are completed.
How is Namibian President Hage Geingob involved in Ramaphosa's farm theft saga?
In Fraser's affidavit, the majority of the suspects who stole millions in cash from Ramaphosa are said to have been Namibian citizens. Fraser stated that they were living at an informal settlement called Cyferskyl, which is close to Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm.
It has been alleged that one of the suspects fled to his home country of Namibia after the burglary and was apprehended in Namibia after Ramaphosa requested help from President Hage Geingob to find him.
Fraser stated that with the help of Geingob and Namibian police, the suspect was arrested and Major General Rhode used government resources to travel to Namibia and retrieve Ramaphosa's stolen money. Fraser added that Rhode also bypassed border control and proper checks were not conducted.
In a press conference, Geingob explained that he did nothing wrong by helping catch a criminal and it was not unusual for Ramaphosa to call him, because he has a close relationship with at least 14 heads of state.
He also stated that he saw no wrongdoing because a crime was committed and a criminal was apprehended and sent back to South Africa.
For now, not much can be done against Ramaphosa concerning the allegations against him. The Rosebank Police Station confirmed last week that a criminal complaint was issued by the former SSA boss and that further investigations will be done.
No updates concerning investigations have been provided by police, SARS, the Reserve Bank or the Hawks since then.
Without any formal criminal charges laid against Ramaphosa, the ANC cannot force him to step down as the party's president. Ramaphosa will also remain as the president of the country unless Members of Parliament decide to lodge a vote of no confidence against him, which has not been done yet.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s prized cattle will go on auction at his Phala Phala farm amid theft allegations
Briefly News previously reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm will host an auction of his Ankole cattle on Saturday 18 June.
The auction is held annually at the president’s farm and more than 15 guest sellers will be present on the day.
The Ankole Cattle Breeders' Society of South Africa shared on Facebook that the second National Ankole Auction will showcase one of the best Ankole offerings yet.
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Source: Briefly News