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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

‘Not guilty’, but ‘Cyril should’ve done more on VBS looting’

Meanwhile, the Presidency has warned that people 'should not be misled by attempts to divert attention away from those responsible'.

President Cyril Ramaphosa may claim that his hands are clean, but the more than R1.8 billion looting spree at VBS Bank should have immediately nudged him into action to get the country’s law enforcement agencies to act against more than 50 individuals and companies implicated in what has been dubbed South Africa’s biggest cash heist.

This is the view of University of Johannesburg’s professor Peter Vale, who heads humanities and advanced study.

Vale’s comment followed Ramaphosa’s reaction yesterday, when he rejected as “baseless and unsubstantiated” newspaper reports that he failed to act, despite being alerted to the irregularities as far back as last year.

The Presidency said Ramaphosa had “no knowledge of any meeting where he is said to have met any person associated with VBS Mutual Bank, where he was purportedly briefed on the matter”.

“Likewise, the claim that Ramaphosa was forewarned about the impending implosion of VBS Bank is unsubstantiated.

“The VBS Bank saga was brought to the attention of the president through official government channels, including the National Treasury,” the Presidency said. “The president subsequently requested a comprehensive report from the Treasury and continues to be guided by it on all matters relating to VBS.

“The president reiterates that the relevant law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities should act with haste and vigour against those behind this unconscionable act of criminality against the most vulnerable.”

The Presidency warned that people “should not be misled by attempts to divert attention away from those responsible”.

According to Vale, “this is a criminal act and these people should be in jail”.

“It is like stealing from your grandmother – unforgivable.

“While I agree that law enforcement agencies should act, the president should have instructed them as a matter of urgency to make haste because the country is angry.

“This is about theft of money from the poorest of the poor.”

Amid the silence from the ANC national top six officials who yesterday met the party’s Limpopo leadership at Luthuli House party headquarters, Vhavenda King Toni Ramabulana has broken his silence over the more than R1.8 billion theft scandal – saying he would pay back more than R17 million he received from VBS if payment has been proven illegal.

Ramabulana, who is among several politicians, business and bank executives implicated, has appealed to Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago not to close the bank he said was created by his father, King Mphephu.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), whose deputy president Floyd Shivambu is embroiled in the scandal due to allegations that his brother Brian pocketed R16 million from VBS, is expected to clear the air today.


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