Home South African Top cop denies role in Farmgate

Top cop denies role in Farmgate

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While President Cyril Ramaphosa refuses to answer further questions around the Phala Phala farm theft scandal, national police commissioner General Fannie Masemola has distanced himself from the allegation that he was involved in the tracing of the suspects.

National police commissioner General Fannie Masemola. Picture: GCIS

WHILE President Cyril Ramaphosa refuses to answer further questions around the Phala Phala farm theft scandal, national police commissioner General Fannie Masemola on Monday distanced himself from the allegation that he was involved in the tracing of the suspects using state resources.

Masemola almost did not answer questions regarding his alleged involvement, with police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe jumping to his rescue, saying her boss would not comment on ongoing investigations.

Masemola did however interject, saying at the time of the incident, two years ago, the Presidential Protection Unit, “did not report to me, so I’ve got nothing to do (with that)”.

“If people (are) deployed at divisional level, whatever mission they do, there’s nothing wrong with such a deployment,” he said.

However, he added that answers around any deployments at the time of the incident could only be answered by then commissioner Kehla Sitole and the current head of the Presidential Protection Unit.

A gang of five Namibians, working with Ramaphosa’s domestic worker, allegedly broke into his farm, stealing millions of US dollars hidden in furniture, which subsequently led to an international man-hunt to catch them, allegedly using irregular channels.

Ramaphosa had conceded that the foreign currency was from the proceeds of animal sales. This raised questions about why he kept the money under furniture, and whether the cash was declared with Sars and the Reserve Bank.

Neither of the two entities have confirmed a probe against Ramaphosa, further raising speculation about their independence.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, refused to answer questions about whether Masemola was rewarded the top cop post for his alleged role in apprehending the break-in suspects.

In a letter to Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa requested an urgent meeting to discuss the new allegations that Masemola authorised the use of police resources and spent thousands of rand to find the suspects, even though the incident was not registered as a criminal matter.

Holomisa said the latest allegation was of serious concern with possibilities of “cover-ups” and “illegal investigations”.

“This allegation gives additional depth to a matter that is already laced with alleged cross-border crime, illegal investigations and cover-up, and this new allegation that the national police commissioner may be involved in the matter at all gives reason to pause.

“It also casts serious doubt on the police’s bona fides in investigating the matter.

“There is no doubt that this is an issue of national importance that is affecting the country’s image. There is now a genuine threat to the stability of the country as we already, once again, hear that there are mass actions to call for the president to go.”

The proposed urgent meeting would exclude Ramaphosa, and only include leaders of political parties represented in Parliament, he said.

“The leaders of parties might have practical suggestions on handling the matter. We are cognisant that ordinarily we would ask to have such a meeting with the president, but given the circumstances, it makes sense to rather approach your office to arrange for this to happen, with the attendance of the deputy president,” he said.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the Speaker had received the correspondence and would communicate her decision with the party.

Meanwhile the EFF also demanded that Ramaphosa respond to the 31 questions posed to him by the Office of the Public Protector, “after he was reported for having possibly breached the Executive Members Ethics Act, by laundering money, kidnapping and concealing a crime”.

On June 8, a day before her suspension, Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane sent Ramaphosa 31 questions relating to the Farmgate matter. She was then replaced by her deputy Kholeka Gcaleka who granted Ramaphosa an extension to answer the question.

“That extension, based on the Ankole-trading hustler’s so-called busy schedule, was granted,” the EFF said.

Magwenya said they had “no comment” around when Ramaphosa would answer the question raised by Mkwebane.”

* Additional reporting by Odwa Mkentane

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