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Namibia sticks to guns over Farmgate

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The ’Farmgate’ saga has taken yet another twist, with the government vehemently denying its Namibian counterpart’s claims that it snubbed the neighbouring country’s request to share information about the suspects involved in the theft of millions of US dollars from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm two years ago.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

THE ‘FARMGATE’ saga has taken yet another twist, with the government vehemently denying its Namibian counterpart’s claims that it snubbed the neighbouring country’s request to share information about the suspects involved in the theft of millions of US dollars from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm two years ago.

The Namibian government repeatedly said it had approached the Ministry of Justice of South Africa to confirm whether or not a crime was registered in South Africa, but received no response.

The Namibians said they had also obtained a preservation order to seize the assets, including properties and vehicles, of the alleged criminals believed to be behind the theft, but that fell through after South Africa did not respond.

However, in a detailed statement released on Tuesday, the Justice Ministry outlined the process to follow for serving requests for mutual legal assistance.

This includes submitting the request at the South African Embassy or High Commission in that particular state, which would then submit the request to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco).

From there it would be transmitted to the central authority, being the director-general of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Alternatively, the requesting state can serve the request for mutual legal assistance via its embassy or high commission in the state from which it seeks information or assistance.

“We can categorically state that, to date, there is no official record of this specific request. When reference is made to diplomatic channels, these are the processes that are being referred to,” said Justice and Correctional Services spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.

“South Africa and its sister republic Namibia continue to work together in a collaborative manner on issues of mutual legal assistance in accordance with the Southern African Development Community Protocol and other related bilateral treaties. So far there has not been any development that necessitates any change of approach when dealing with matters of this nature.”

Approached for comment, Namibian Police Force deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi told Independent Media on Tuesday that they stood by their statement that there had been a submission to South Africa to share information after the preservation order was issued.

Namibian Police Force deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi. Picture: Facebook

The scandal was likely to impact the reputation of both Ramaphosa and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob, who was alleged to have been asked to assist with apprehending the suspects, said foreign policy expert Siseko Maposa.

“While contradictory and opposing statements have been made by state offices in the respective countries, we should guard against the lure of sensationalism when assessing this matter. Contextually, Namibia and South Africa enjoy strong diplomatic relations characterised by regular interactions at multiple levels. Those bonds will not be broken. There are only reputational risks at play for both presidents, which they will need to attend to with supreme dexterity,” he said.

Pressure is mounting on the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) to make a decision on whether to charge Ramaphosa for alleged money laundering, defeating the ends of justice, kidnapping the suspects who were allegedly interrogated and breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, no 121 of 1998 (“Poca”) and the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act No12 of 2004 (“The Corruption Act”).

On Tuesday, the DA outlined a nine-point plan of action regarding the saga, including writing to the United State’s FBI (Pretoria Field Office), the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Tax Fraud Department at the South African Revenue Service, Phindile Baleni, the secretary of the Cabinet in the Office of the Presidency, the public protector and the national police commissioner, among others.

Civic organisation Democracy In Action has also written to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Shamila Batohi, reminding her that it has been 20 days since former SA State Security Agency director-general Arthur Fraser lodged a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa, yet nothing has been done to date.

“We urge both the (police) commissioner and the NDPP to charge the accused persons and start the process to prosecute. If for any reason the NDPP is unable to prosecute, please allow us a chance to prosecute through private prosecution,” the organisation said.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the matter was with law enforcement and had not reached the NPA.

“We will deal with it as and when a docket is presented to us by law enforcement.”

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