President Cyril Ramaphosa has broken his silence on the alleged theft of $4 million (R61.8 million) in cash at his Limpopo-based Phala Phala farm in 2020.
Ramaphosa on Sunday reflected on the matter during his closing address at the 10th ANC Limpopo provincial conference.
He told delegates the alleged millions of US dollars were not the proceeds of crime and that he had never looted taxpayers’ monies.
“I have never stolen money from anywhere. Be it from our taxpayers, be it from anyone; I’ve never done so and will never do so,” Ramaphosa said.
“I’ve never stolen money from our taxpayers [and] my integrity as a leader will never allow me to do so. I will never be able to do so,” he added.
Ramaphosa farm theft
Last week, the State Security Agency’s (SSA) former director-general, Arthur Fraser, lodged a criminal complaint against the president, accusing him of breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act by not reporting the robbery.
Fraser claimed the suspects who broke into Ramaphosa’s property were subsequently kidnapped, interrogated, and paid off to keep silent.
The Presidency confirmed the robbery did indeed take place on or around 9 February 2020, in which proceeds from the sale of game were stolen.
‘Clear business transaction’
Ramaphosa told ANC delegates that he was a livestock farmer and the millions allegedly stolen from his farm were proceeds from the sale of game.
He explained that his sales were sometimes in the form of cash payments or transfers.
“I’m in the cattle business and the game business, and through that business – which has been declared in Parliament and all over – I buy and I sell animals. Sometimes people buy these animals… the sales are sometimes through cash and sometimes through transfers.
“Some of the people who are offshore customers and who are sometimes local, come through and buy animals and some of them come to also hunt on the farm.
“So this that’s being reported was a clear business transaction of selling animals,” the president said.
While Ramaphosa acknowledged the public interest surrounding the theft at his Limpopo farm, he reiterated that he remained “firmly focused” on rebuilding the economy and the country.
“I want to reaffirm that I was not involved in any criminal conduct and once again I pledge my full cooperation with any form of investigation.
“Due to the investigation, I would not really be able to engage deeply or further on this matter as we should allow the due process to take place.”
The president said he would continue to lead the fight against corruption in government, insinuating that there was a political agenda behind Fraser’s criminal complaint against him.
He also said the figure of $4 million that is being reported to have been allegedly stolen was largely exaggerated.
“Some of these things clearly have their own political agenda and we are all aware of that, but it will not deter me from fighting corruption because I have never stolen taxpayers’ money,” Ramaphosa said.