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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Phala Phala: Sars confirms that Ramaphosa’s stolen dollars were not declared

Sars confirmed to the DA that 'the record does not exist and/or cannot be found'.


The $580 000 (about R10 million) that was stolen during a burglary at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm in 2020 was not declared to the South African Revenue Service (Sars) when it arrived in South Africa.

That’s according to the Democratic Alliance (DA), which obtained this information directly from Sars following a request submitted in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

Phala Phala robbery

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the official opposition party received the response from Sars on Monday morning. The party had asked whether the US dollars were declared in terms of Sars’ customs policy on excess currency.

ALSO READ: ConCourt ruling on Phala Phala report ‘not a blow’ for Ramaphosa – Presidency

The policy stipulates that “every person must declare” foreign currency upon arrival in the country. Failure to adhere to this provision is an offence that may be criminally prosecuted.

DA’s PAIA request

The DA submitted the PAIA request to Sars after Ramaphosa claimed to parliament’s Section 89 independent panel that he had received $580 000 from Sudanese businessman, Hazim Mustafa, as payment for cattle as part of a legitimate business transaction.

In an interview with Sky News, in December last year, Mustafa claimed that he had complied with the requirement to declare the money to Sars officials at OR Tambo International Airport upon entering South Africa.

RELATED: Man named in Phala Phala report ‘not aware’ buffalo belonged to Ramaphosa

To verify Ramaphosa and Mustafa’s claims that this was a legitimate business transaction using foreign currency that had legally entered the country, Steenhuisen on 7 December 2022 submitted the PAIA request to Sars to obtain the “relevant currency declaration forms that Mr Hamiz Mustafa submitted to declare the $580 000 that he was bringing into the country”.

On Monday morning the revenue service confirmed that “the record does not exist and/or cannot be found.”

Steenhuisen said this was accompanied by an affidavit from Siyabonga Nkabinde, a legal specialist in Sars’ corporate legal services department.

“In his affidavit, Nkabinde confirms that ‘on or around 17 January 2023, I commenced engagements with various business units within Sars that I believed may be in the custody and/or be in possession and/or have knowledge of the record requested and was advised that pursuant to the search for the record in various Sars Passenger Processing Systems the record could not be found and/or may not be in existence’.

“The response by Sars means that we now know that the president of South Africa had hidden dirty dollars, which had entered the country illegally, inside a couch on his game farm,” said Steenhuisen in a statement.

Phala Phala panel report

The DA leader said the information from Sars rendered Ramaphosa’s claim that these funds were merely the proceeds of a business transaction impossible to believe.

Steenhuisen said, “legitimate business transactions are usually not hidden from Sars inside a couch”.

“The information also adds further credence to the findings of the Section 89 panel’s report that there exists prima facie evidence that Ramaphosa may have violated the Constitution, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, as well as his oath of office.”

Steenhuisen said should Ramaphosa turn to the high court to challenge the adverse findings made against him in the Section 89 Phala Phala report, the DA would introduce this new information from Sars as evidence that the panel’s report must stand.

This follows the Constitutional Court’s (ConCourt) decision last week to dismiss the president’s application for direct access in order to challenge the findings of the report.

The panel’s report found that Ramaphosa may have a case to answer over the theft of foreign currency at his game farm.

“We will also submit this information to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as yet another reason why she must accede to the DA’s request for the urgent establishment of an ad hoc committee to fully expose the truth behind the president’s dirty dollars,” said Steenhuisen.

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

NOW READ: Ramaphosa’s bid to challenge Phala Phala report at ConCourt dismissed

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