Home South African Sars, Reserve Bank mum on Ramaphosa’s farmgate

Sars, Reserve Bank mum on Ramaphosa’s farmgate

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Pressure continues to mount on Ramaphosa to come clean about this saga, which political analysts say was severely damaging the reputation of the sitting president.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

THE country’s financial authorities, including the South African Revenue Service (Sars), have remained tight-lipped on whether they would investigate millions of US dollars kept on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s farm before a gang allegedly broke in and stole it.

Pressure continues to mount on Ramaphosa to come clean about this saga, which political analysts say was severely damaging the reputation of the sitting president.

Former State Security Head Arthur Fraser lodged a complaint against Ramaphosa for allegedly defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping suspects who were allegedly interrogated, citing breaches of, inter alia, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, no 121 of 1998 (“POCA”) and the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act No12 of 2004 (“The Corruption Act”).

The millions of US dollars (in excess of US$4 million) were concealed within Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in Waterberg, Limpopo, before criminals colluding with his domestic worker stole them in 2020, said Fraser.

While Ramaphosa has admitted that the robbery did in fact happen, he denied being involved in any criminal activity.

He has also committed to offering his full co-operation with the investigation. He said the money was from the sale of game and claimed he had initially said the matter was reported to the head of the Presidential Protection Unit of the South African Police Service for investigation.

The head unit that had been alerted to the matter did not open a case, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, is quoted as saying in media reports.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said the head of the presidential unit did have information about the incident.

“The head was given the information either by him getting it or the president reporting it, but there would be very little reason why the president would give that information to him and he does not know about that since he’s the head of protection.

“I know that they did speak about it. The president cannot open the case with the head of the protection (unit). The head of protection will have to open the case with the station to get the case number. It does not necessarily mean the president could have gone there. That the head of protection knew was enough for the president.”

The DA and ActionSA have since written to Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago, and Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter, enquiring about their knowledge of these funds, declarations made in respect of the cash and whether tax had been paid in respect of such transactions.

Approached for comment, Sars failed to respond to questions by deadline while South African Reserve Bank (SARB) spokesperson, Thoraya Pandy, said it was not their practice to comment on or provide any details pertaining to previous, current or potential investigations it may be involved in.

“The SARB applies its exchange control policy consistently and equally to all South African residents. It is the practice of the SARB to investigate matters brought to its attention wherein reasonable grounds exist to believe that contraventions of the Exchange Control Regulations have taken place.

“These investigations are conducted and (are) applied to everyone without fear, favour or prejudice, irrespective of the parties involved,” said Pandy.

Meanwhile UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has also written to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, calling for Parliament to investigate allegations that Ramaphosa “covered up” the theft.

“These allegations have been greatly destructive of the country’s image, both at home and abroad and is likely to affect investor confidence negatively; especially given that President Ramaphosa has acted as the champion of good governance and now this bomb has burst over his very own head,” Holomisa said in his letter.

He suggested that Ramaphosa take sabbatical leave, until mid-August 2022. “Then, that Parliament and the acting president may institute a preliminary investigation into the entire matter with terms of reference that would include if the SA Revenue Services and the Reserve Bank had any knowledge of the matter.”

The main question was whether the allegations are true or false, said political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe.

“Not reporting a crime is a crime on its own. We don’t have a case number that proves that the matter has been investigated.

“Keeping so much money is also criminal or suspect in terms of our law. It creates suspicion of money laundering.

“If so much money, which is not denied, comes from income, this income should have been reported to SARS. The more the President responds, the more he entangles himself.”

Cape Times

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