IPID to investigate police conduct in Phala Phala farm theft saga

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President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
PHOTO: Jeffrey Abrahams, Gallo Images
  • IPID boss Thuso Keefelakae says they will probe the police's conduct in the Phala Phala farm theft case.
  • The African Transformation Movement wrote to the directorate to ask it toinvestigate.
  • It asked for those who were implicated to be suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) will probe the police's role in the alleged cover-up and off-the-books investigation of the theft at President Cyril Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm, following a request from the African Transformation Movement (ATM). 

Former spy boss Arthur Fraser, a close associate of former president Jacob Zuma, opened a criminal case into the saga last month, claiming that there was an attempt to cover up the theft of millions of US dollars from the Limpopo farm.

READ | Mantashe on Phala Phala farm saga: 'The president has not stolen resources'

The ATM wrote to the police watchdog to ask it to investigate claims that top cops covered up the incident.

It asked the directorate to investigate newly appointed national police commissioner Fannie Masemola and his predecessor, Khehla Sitole, because they were "in the know" about the "burglary, theft and related matters", but seemingly covered them up.

ATM president Vuyolwethu Zungula cited leaked reports that Namibian police were in contact with South African officers, including Masemola and Sitole, following the burglary and theft, and that they were involved in "some secretive and off-the-books investigation".

The party also requested the suspension of the police officials who were implicated, pending the outcome of the investigation, saying that high-ranking officials could not oversee the current investigation because they were possibly conflicted.

In his response to the ATM, Keefelakae said: "This email serves to inform the honourable Zungula that IPID has looked into the letter forwarded regarding the Phala Phala farm theft."

He added:

The directorate has decided to investigate the matter to partially look into the conduct of the police.

In order for the directorate to register and investigate the matter, Keefelakae said, the IPID should obtain a sworn statement from Zungula "as the complainant and will, in the process, ask clarity-seeking questions".

He said this would enable it to deal with the case effectively.

IPID asked Zungula to indicate his availability between 11 and 22 July for the unit to obtain a sworn statement.

In a statement, IPID further clarified the matter.

IPID spokesperson Lizzy Suping said they had received a letter from the ATM asking for an investigation into the alleged conduct of the police in relation to the theft at Ramaphosa's Phala Phala Farm.

"It is worth noting that the complaint from the ATM party does not fall squarely on the IPID mandate in terms of Section 28(1) of the IPID Act, which specifies a list of offences that can be exclusively investigated by IPID.

"Section 28(1)(h) provides that IPID can investigate any offences referred to it as a result of a decision by the Executive Director, or if requested by the Minister, MEC or Secretary of Police."

Suping said the ATM's complaint had not been fully assessed by IPID because of the limited information contained in the complaint letter.

"The Directorate has requested the author of the letter from ATM to present himself to IPID for an interview. The request for the ATM representative to present themselves to IPID for an interview, forms part of an investigation. However, the interview process will assist IPID to assess whether a full investigation is warranted on the alleged conduct of the Police at the Phala Phala Farm matter."

After the ATM's formal statement has been obtained, IPID executive director Jennifer Ntlatseng would determine whether the case could be fully investigated. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include IPID's statement.

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