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By Citizen Reporter


Is a full investigation into Phala Phala farm theft warranted? Ipid to ‘assess’ police conduct

The police directorate has asked ATM President Vuyolwethu Zungula to give a sworn statement.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) says the African Transformational Movement (ATM) must give a sworn statement regarding the Phala Phala $4 million theft before deciding whether to “fully” investigate the matter.

ATM President Vuyolwethu Zungula had requested Ipid to investigate allegations that police top brass knew about the alleged cover-up of the February 2020 theft at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

In a letter – dated 21 June – written to Ipid executive director Jennifer Dikeledi Ntlatseng, Zungula said claims by the Namibian Police Force (Nampol) that they met with the South African Police Service (Saps) showed that the top brass were involved in the alleged cover-up. 

ALSO READ: Parliament won’t hold Ramaphosa to account for farm theft, says expert

When former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser laid criminal charges against Ramaphosa, he alleged that, among other things, Presidential Protection Unit head, Wally Rhoode, entered and exited Namibia using unofficial channels when Ramaphosa “sought assistance” from Namibian President Hage Geingob to apprehend the suspects behind the theft.

Based on these allegations as well as reports by News24, Zungula said “all the affected police officers should be suspended pending the investigation into their alleged complicity”.

‘Ipid mandate’

On Friday, Ipid spokesperson Lizzy Suping provided an update on ATM’s letter, saying: “It is worth noting that the complaint from the ATM party does not fall squarely on the Ipid mandate in terms of Section 28(1) of the Ipid Act, which specifies a list of offences that can be exclusively investigated by Ipid.”

“Section 28(1)(h) provides that Ipid can investigate any offences referred to it as a result of a decision by the Executive Director, or if requested by the Minister, MEC or Secretary of Police,” she further said in a statement.

Suping said the ATM’s complaint had not been fully assessed by Ipid because of the limited information contained in the complaint letter.

“The directorate has requested the author of the letter from ATM to present himself to Ipid for an interview.

READ MORE: DA guns for Ramaphosa, asks FBI to probe farm theft saga

“The request for the ATM representative to present themselves to Ipid for an interview, forms part of an investigation.

“However, the interview process will assist Ipid to assess whether a full investigation is warranted on the alleged conduct of the police at the Phala Phala farm matter,” the Ipid director for communications and marketing said.

She added that Ipid will then determine whether the case could be “fully investigated” after the ATM’s formal statement has been obtained.

It has been widely reported that Ipid head of investigations Thuso Keefelakae sent an email to Zungula confirming that “directorate has taken a decision to investigate the matter to partially look into the conduct of the police”.

Public Protector requests

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office is investigating whether Ramaphosa violated the Executive Members’ Ethics Code by not reporting the crime to the police after a complanit was lodged by the ATM.

The Public Protector’s report into the theft is expected be completed in 30 days.

The office, on 7 June, sent a list of questions to Police Commissioner, Fannie Masemola, asking the police commissioner to provide a detailed statement explaining whether the alleged robbery had been reported to the police.

ALSO READ: Public Protector’s office sends questions to police commissioner over ‘farmgate’

According to City Press, Mkhwebane also asked Masemola to ensure that Rhoode provide an affidavit over his alleged role in the crime.

The ATM, meanwhile, says it will consult with its lawyers “on how to compel” National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula “to do her job diligently without fear or favour”.

The party had requested for a Section 89 inquiry to be established over the allegations that Ramaphosa breached the Prevention of Organised Crime Act  by not reporting the theft.

While Mapisa-Nqakula indicated that she was considering the ATM’s submission, the party has grown impatient since two weeks have past since it wrote to the Speaker.

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