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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Phala Phala: Ramaphosa’s ex-security head, other cops not off the hook

The Public Protector has recommended disciplinary action against Major-General Wally Rhoode and Sergeant Hlulani Rekhoto in her leaked draft report.


While everyone waited for acting Public Protector (PP) Kholeka Gcaleka to release the final findings of the months-old investigation into the Phala Phala scandal, it seems President Cyril Ramaphosa could walk away unharmed, while the heads of others involved may roll. Phala Phala report leaked It was believed Gcaleka would clear Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing regarding the break-in and theft of $580 000 (about R8 million) in cash at his Limpopo game farm in 2020. ALSO READ: Phala Phala: EFF rejects ‘nonsensical’ Public Protector report clearing Ramaphosa However, it was understood action would be initiated against Major-General Wally Rhoode and…

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While everyone waited for acting Public Protector (PP) Kholeka Gcaleka to release the final findings of the months-old investigation into the Phala Phala scandal, it seems President Cyril Ramaphosa could walk away unharmed, while the heads of others involved may roll.

Phala Phala report leaked

It was believed Gcaleka would clear Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing regarding the break-in and theft of $580 000 (about R8 million) in cash at his Limpopo game farm in 2020.

ALSO READ: Phala Phala: EFF rejects ‘nonsensical’ Public Protector report clearing Ramaphosa

However, it was understood action would be initiated against Major-General Wally Rhoode and Sergeant Hlulani Rekhoto.

Ramaphosa was accused of corruption and abuse of state resources in complaints lodged by opposition parties.

Reputational risk

Politics professor at the University of Limpopo Kgothatso Shai said Ramaphosa had acted reasonably from a reputational risk point of view.

“It was an attempt at balancing the individual and national interest. If there could be a break into the president’s house, then the national security is put into serious question,” he said.

The incident would not reflect well on our country in the eyes of the public and the international community.

RELATED: Ramaphosa has 10 days to reply to preliminary PP report on Phala Phala

Political analyst Khanya Vilakazi said if state resources were used to recover money from Ramaphosa’s private residence, it should have been part of the SA Police Service annual report under threat assessments.

Vilakazi said it seemed the PP did not find anything wrong with the president using state resources to recover his business assets which were strange.

“I think the president does have something to answer for. It’s not about the crime because nobody cares about the money. It is the ‘after the fact’, what were the mitigating factors and how was it dealt with, was it inside [or outside] the bounds of the law,” he asked.

Why a criminal case wasn’t opened?

Political analyst Piet Croucamp questioned why a criminal case wasn’t opened and if it was to protect the president.

“There’s a more important question the judges will deliberate once it goes to court, if it goes to court, and if the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation] have done their work properly.

“The president knew there was a case, but you need to ask yourself, what would a rational person do if they lost R8 million? Do you expect the police to lay a charge, especially if the suspects are known?” he said.

Croucamp said one should ask if Ramaphosa deliberately informed Rhoode off the bridge instead of reporting it to the Hawks and why.

Police role in Phala Phala theft probe

Political lecturer at NorthWest University Dr Benjamin Rapanyane said Rhoode should have come clean instead of trying to protect the president.

“What is concerning to me is that if this was the case, why was he involved in the interviewing of the domestic helper at the farm and her brother and even denying this was coerced?

“The question of why he was involved in the questioning of the domestic helper raises concerns about his role in the whole Phala Phala saga,” he said.

University of Limpopo criminologist Professor Jaco Barkhuizen said it was worrying and disturbing that high-up police did not understand their legal duties when reporting crime.

“They either don’t understand or know about it, which is what training police persons go through or they knew what they should have done but didn’t do it for reasons we can only speculate on,” he said.

Barkhuizen said it was mindboggling that someone with that type of exposure did not know what to do. “It brings up a lot of questions, and these questions need answers because it reflects on the police that one can say was fundamentally broken and flawed.”

NOW READ:  ‘The less said, the better’: Ramaphosa notes PP report clearing him over Phala Phala burglary

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