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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Alleged Phala Phala mastermind intends to plead not guilty

The application for bail by David was postponed due to load shedding, which impacted the court’s recording systems.

The alleged mastermind behind the burglary at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm intends not to plead guilty to all the charges against him.

Accused number one Imanuwela David appeared in the Bela Bela Magistrates Court in Limpopo on Wednesday.

The application for bail by David was postponed due to load shedding, which impacted the court’s recording systems.

David, along with his two co-accused, siblings Froliana and David Joseph, are charged with housebreaking and the theft of $580 000 (about R10.6 million at the time) from Ramaphosa‘s game farm in February 2020.

Stolen money

At the time of the postponement, the investigation team led by Lieutenant-Colonel Ludi Schnelle of the Serious Corruption Unit of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) was giving evidence in the matter.

ALSO READ: Two Phala Phala game farm robbery accused granted bail

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said Schnelle told the court that David allegedly deposited some of the stolen money into his own bank account and that of his friends and family.

“The investigation officer told the court that the applicant made a down payment of a house and the fiancée is staying there the bond is in the name of the partner, And he also bought a Mercedes Benz  and gave it to his ex-girlfriend.”

Malabi-Dzhangi said when David was asked about his property, he told the court he had no assets except a TV, his dogs and the shack he stays in.

Flight risk

During his testimony, David said he only has one conviction in South Africa.

David said he paid in fine in Namibia when he crossed the border illegally and was detained by Namibian police for six months


David also said he has never tried to flee the country after he was identified as a suspect in the Phala Phala burglary.

“If I wanted to run away from this case, I would have a long time ago,” he said.

There was also a dispute over his address.

State Prosecutor Nkhetheni Munyai argued that David gave Schnelle a different address than the one mention in court

He said this was an error which was later rectified with the investigating officer

David said he should be released on bail as he has four children and a family to feed and will not interfere with investigations.

He said his family can afford R5,000 bail.

The state is opposing bail.

Magistrate Predeshni Ponnan presiding over the bail hearing will continue to hear the application on Thursday.


David and Froliana Joseph were arrested earlier this month, while 27-year-old Ndilinasho David Joseph, the brother of Froliana, a former employee at the game farm handed himself over to police.

The Phala Phala theft came to light when former State Security Agency boss, Arthur Fraser, opened a case of kidnapping and money laundering against Ramaphosa, the head of the Presidential Protection Services Major-General Wally Rhoode and Crime Intelligence.

They were accused of concealing the robbery.

Among the allegations was that Ramaphosa paid off suspects who stole the money that was stashed in the furniture on the farmhouse, in exchange for their silence.

Ramaphosa has denied all the allegations against him.

ALSO READ: Hawks looking for two more in connection with Phala Phala robbery

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