Phala Phala panel finds Ramaphosa ‘may have committed serious violations’, breached anti-corruption laws

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Gallo Images
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa ‘may have committed serious violations’ and breached anti-corruption laws.
  • This was the finding of the independent panel that probed the Phala Phala matter.
  • The panel found that Ramaphosa failed to report the theft on his farm to any police official as required by law.

The independent panel appointed by the speaker to investigate whether there was any evidence of wrongdoing on President Cyril Ramaphosa's part in the Phala Phala saga has said there exists “prima facie” evidence that he breached anti-corruption laws.

Led by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, the panel found that Ramaphosa may have committed a serious violation of section 34(1) of The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

“A serious misconduct in that the president violated section 96(2)(b) by acting in a way that is inconsistent with his office. A serious misconduct in that the president violated section 96(2)(b) by exposing himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private business,” the report read.

Furthermore, the panel found that Ramaphosa failed to report the theft on his farm to any police official, as required by law.

“Reporting the matter to General Wally Rhoode, a member of the Presidential Protection Unit, is not in compliance with the South African Police Service Amendment Act, 2012 which directs that reporting should be made to the police official in the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation in terms of Section 34(1) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004,” the report read.

The fact that there is no case number to date is proof that the manner in which the purported reporting was made, was irregular and unlawful, the panel found.

A burning issue

The Phala Phala saga became a burning issue in June, after former director-general of the State Security Agency, Arthur Fraser, opened a kidnapping and money laundering case against Ramaphosa, Rhoode, and Crime Intelligence members. Fraser alleged they concealed a burglary at Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm in February 2020.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula appointed the Section 89 inquiry panel following a motion by ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula for Ramaphosa's removal on the grounds of "a serious violation of the Constitution or the law and serious misconduct". Section 89 of the Constitution allows for the removal of a sitting president on the grounds of a serious violation of the Constitution of the law; serious misconduct or an inability to perform the functions of the office.

The panel delivered its report to the Speaker earlier on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa has flatly denied any wrongdoing related to the Phala Phala saga, has revealed that his game farm operates "largely at a loss" and that he has funded it largely out of pocket.

Ramaphosa to consider report

In a statement, Ramaphosa’s office said the Section 89 process has presented an unprecedented and extraordinary moment for South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

“The conclusions of the panel require careful reading and appropriate consideration in the interest of the stability of government and that of the country,” the statement read.

Ramaphosa reiterated the statement he made in his submission to the independent panel:

“I have endeavoured, throughout my tenure as President, not only to abide by my oath but to set an example of respect for the Constitution, for its institutions, for due process and the law. I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me.”

Furthermore, Ramaphosa’s office is giving consideration to the report and an announcement will be made in due course.

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