The state is questioning the mental history of a man who was allegedly plotting to assassinate President Jacob Zuma and other high-profile government officials and Cabinet ministers perceived as beneficiaries of state capture.
Elvis Ramosebudi, 33, allegedly also had members of the controversial Gupta family, members of state-owned entities and other prominent South Africans on what is perceived to be his hit list, which contains the names of 19 individuals.
Members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) arrested Ramosebudi on Wednesday. They revealed that investigations had intercepted communications of possible assassinations.
When Ramosebudi appeared in a packed courtroom at the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court on Friday, he was not asked to plead. He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
The unemployed Soshanguve resident allegedly approached several organisations asking for donations of millions of rands to carry out his murder plot.
He was arrested at the offices of Anglo American on Wednesday while delivering a detailed presentation of his plans.
A concerned citizen who formed part of the meeting at the mining company’s offices tipped off police about the accused’s bizarre plans.
State prosecutor King Masemola told Magistrate Vincent Ratshibvumo that investigators had raised concerns into the accused’s mental state and suggested that he be sent for evaluation.
Investigators were baffled that he used his own bank account details and openly canvassed for millions of rands to execute his plot.
Ratshibvumo asked Ramosebudi if he had ever been admitted to a mental institution and the accused said he could not recall. Ratshibvumo confirmed that the accused should be sent for evaluation as a precautionary measure.
Legal expert Tracy Lomax said the state could not have had Ramosebudi’s mental state determined before his arrest, as a court would have had to determine if such an evaluation was necessary.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Louw said that while the suspect’s behaviour raised concern that he might be mentally ill, it felt it was still necessary to prosecute.
“As the NPA, it is our duty to go through the contents of the docket with what we had so far. As the NPA, we feel that the accused had a case to answer.”
Earlier, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, said the Hawks had acted on the information they received and conducted undercover operations in both Pretoria and Johannesburg which had led to the arrest.
“The communication intercepted by the investigators included various letters which were sent to selected companies to donate money at a total amount of R140 million to fund the alleged clandestine operation.”
Masemola said he was in possession of the names of the affected individuals but would only release them after further investigation.
Mulaudzi said during the ongoing investigation another group, the Anti-White Monopoly Capitalists Regime (AWMCG) had surfaced which has necessitated a two-pronged investigative
“It was discovered that the AWMCG used the same modus operandi, soliciting donations in order to assassinate senior government officials and other South African citizens. Four individuals were allegedly targeted for this operation. Their names will also be revealed in court,” Mulaudzi said.
He said that during a search at the accused’s house, “evidentiary proof” was found and confiscated. Hawks investigations revealed that there were other companies the accused had attempted to solicit funds from.
NPA spokesperson Lindi Mjonodwane said she could not confirm whether Ramosebudi received the funds he had tried to solicit and whether he was working alone.
The matter was postponed to May 2 to allow the accused to apply for legal aid.