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ATM calls for suspension of cops ‘involved’ in alleged cover-up

The African Transformational Movement (ATM) has called for the suspension of police officials allegedly involved in the alleged cover-up of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s $4 million theft.

The ATM has written to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) asking that it investigate allegations that police top brass knew about the alleged cover-up of the February 2020 theft at the president’s Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

In a letter to Ipid head Jennifer Dikeledi Ntlatseng, ATM President Vuyolwetu Zungula said claims by the Namibian Police Force (Nampol) that they met with the South African Police Service (Saps) showed that they were involved in the alleged cover-up. 

ALSO READ: DA guns for Ramaphosa, asks FBI to probe farm theft saga

“It has been reported that the newly appointed Police Commissioner, Fannie Masemola, and his predecessor, Khehla [Sitole], were in the know about the burglary, theft, and related matters.

“Of concern to the ATM is the damning allegation that these two abovementioned high-ranking officers of the law are mired into some secretive and off-the-books investigation into the burglary,” Zungula said in the letter, dated 21 June.

According to Nampol Inspector-General, Sebastian Ndeitunga, Namibian police met with their South African counterparts at “no man’s land” near Noordoewer on 19 June 2020, following the arrest of lmanuwela David, who is one of the suspects connected to the theft.

The meeting, Ndeitunga said, had resolved that Nampol and Saps would investigate the matter within their jurisdiction.

‘Alleged complicity’

Meanwhile, Zungula further explained that media reports also revealed that the top brass in the Saps’ Crime Intelligence Division were tasked with tracing the stolen money and the suspects behind the theft.

“According to two sources known to News24, the Presidential Protection Unit head, Wally Rhoode, called on the then Crime Intelligence boss Peter Jacobs for manpower and resources to probe the dollar heist, which was never formally reported. 

News24 reports that their sources said high ranking officers from Pretoria and Polokwane along with Rhoode were dispatched to the game farm to undertake a fresh threat and risk assessment of security and that the elite Special Task Force were stationed in the veld surrounding the farm,” he continued.

When former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser laid criminal charges against Ramaphosa, he alleged that the suspects who broke into the president’s farm were kidnapped and interrogated.

 READ MORE: Ramaphosa farm theft: NPA denies Namibian police reached out, while suspects only took $800K

Fraser also alleged that Rhoode entered and exited Namibia using unofficial channels when Ramaphosa “sought assistance” from Namibian President Hage Geingob to apprehend the suspects behind the theft.

Based on these allegations, Zungula said “all the affected police officers should be suspended pending the investigation into their alleged complicity”.

“It is against this background that the ATM is requesting that the conduct of the police be investigated and if substantiated the corrective action be taken against all the affected individuals.

“The ATM is also very concerned that the very same officials will be over-seeing the current criminal investigation where they are implicated,” he concluded.

Parliament and Public Protector requests

The ATM had already asked suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office to investigate whether Ramaphosa violated the Executive Members’ Ethics Code by not reporting the crime to the police.

The Public Protector’s report into the theft is expected be completed in 30 days.

The office, on 7 June, sent a list of questions to Masemola, asking the police commissioner to provide a detailed statement explaining whether the alleged robbery had been reported to the police.

ALSO READ: No record of request from Namibia in Phala Phala farm theft probe – Justice ministry

According to City Press, Mkhwebane also asked Masemola to ensure that Rhoode provide an affidavit over his alleged role in the crime.

The party, meanwhile, has written to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula requesting for a Section 89 inquiry to be established over the allegations that Ramaphosa breached the Prevention of Organised Crime Act  by not reporting the theft.

Mapisa-Nqakula is currently considering the ATM’s submission.

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