SPIES R US
Namibian police weigh in on Farmgate and deny doing ‘dirty work’ for Ramaphosa
Admitting they had met their South African counterparts at the border to discuss suspects now linked to the Phala Phala robbery, Namibian police say they conducted their own investigations but had not done any 'dirty work' for the South African president.
Namibian police have confirmed meeting their South African counterparts in June 2020 at the border, to share “operational information” pertaining to Imanuwela David and other Namibian nationals suspected of stealing money in South Africa and fleeing to Namibia.
In a statement this week, Namibian police said police authorities from both countries met in Noordoewer, a no-man’s land, to discuss the suspects. They decided to investigate the matter in their own jurisdictions.
However, the Namibian police revealed that they cancelled a preservation order that was issued after they did not receive a response through the Ministry of Justice to South Africa to confirm whether a crime had been registered in South Africa.
The statement was drawn up in response to allegations and speculation that they had done “dirty work” for Ramaphosa, which Namibian police denied.
David’s name has cropped up in the ongoing reports on the robbery at Ramaphosa’s game farm in Limpopo in February 2020. News24 reported that former spy boss and axed national commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser (who first revealed the robbery and opened a criminal case against Ramaphosa) named David, Petrus Muhekeni, Petrus Afrikaner and Ubranus Lomboleni Shaumbwako as the suspects.
The president was out of the country at the time of the robbery and millions of dollars are believed to have been stolen.
The news of the robbery made headlines, after Fraser gave a detailed statement to the police alleging that the president had concealed the robbery from both the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
The president reported the robbery to the head of the Presidential Protection Unit, Major General Wally Rhoode, confirmed Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya, in what was his second day on the job.
The Presidency has since conceded that Rhoode did not register a theft case with the police, but has denied all criminality.
In an affidavit, Fraser claimed a domestic worker at Phala Phala discovered “undisclosed sums of US dollars concealed in the furniture of the president’s residence at the farm”. In Fraser’s affidavit published by EWN, he asked police to investigate the conduct of the president, Rhoode, and others, alleging inter alia money laundering, contraventions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, and corruption.
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Ramaphosa has stated that the stolen millions were the proceeds of a private game sale. He did not disclose the amount stolen.
During the Presidency Budget Vote debate in Parliament on Friday, 10 June, Ramaphosa said the robbery was now a criminal matter.
Daily Maverick’s Marianne Merten reported Ramaphosa as saying: “I will therefore not be responding to speculation, conjecture, allegations, or so-called revelations. These must be ventilated in the proper and appropriate forums. I repeat, the law must take its course.”
In the statement on Thursday, 16 June, the Namibian police disputed claims that they had abducted and tortured David, who is alleged to have been involved with the robbery.
In Fraser’s affidavit and a report by investigative centre amaBhungane, there is no mention of Namibian authorities abducting or torturing David, but questions were asked about the pursuit of the suspects by Rhoode and the president’s knowledge of the events.
David’s arrest by Namibian authorities and the meeting
In the statement attributed to Namibian Police Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga, police confirmed that on 12 June 2020, David was arrested for illegally entering Namibia by canoe on the Orange River near Noordoewer in the Karas region. He was then driven to Windhoek by two police officers. The following day, he was formally arrested for violating the Immigration Control Act and the State of Emergency Regulation which was in place at the time.
According to Ndeitunga, David was in possession of N$300, eleven $100 notes, a N$28,000 TAG Heuer watch, a N$280,000 Rolex watch, a N$163,000 gold chain, and four cellphones. After testing positive for Covid-19, David was isolated at Hosea Kutako International Airport Police Station holding cells.
Once he was released from quarantine, David appeared in court, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a fine of N$5,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment for violating the Immigration Control Act. He was also found guilty of failing to declare goods, for which he was fined N$15,000 or 24 months’ imprisonment. That day, David paid the N$20,000 fine and was given 48-hour notice to leave the country. He left Namibia on 14 November 2020 at 8am. He is believed to be in hiding in South Africa and reportedly fears for his life.
Two other suspects, Paulus Alfeus Ngalangi and Sergeant Hendrik Nghede Hidipo were arrested and pleaded not guilty to charges under the Immigration Act, aiding and abetting an illegal immigrant, and several offences under the Anti-Corruption Act. Their matter was postponed to 6 June 2022. However, when the matter came to court in June, it was not finalised. The trail is set down for 15 to 19 August.
Namibian police confirmed that the meeting with South African police authorities took place on 19 June 2020, while under Covid-19 restrictions. “The meeting resolved for the two police authorities to investigate the matter within their jurisdiction,” said Namibian police.
“The Namibian Police Force identified individuals, bank accounts and various properties including lodges, houses and vehicles suspected to have been purchased with proceeds of crime and consulted the Office of the Prosecutor General to consider a preservation order of the assets,” the statement read.
“A preservation order was issued and a formal request was made through the Ministry of Justice to South Africa to confirm whether or not a crime was registered in South Africa,” said the Namibian police and added: “however, no response was received from South African authorities, resulting in the cancellation of the preservation order and release of assets”.
Daily Maverick requested a comment from the Ministry of Justice about the preservation order and will update this article once we receive the comment. Daily Maverick has also asked the South African Police Service (SAPS) about their involvement and is waiting for their comment.
Since the news broke of the robbery at the president’s farm, much commentary had been given on the matter, including in Parliament, where the president faced disruptions during his Budget Vote on 10 and 11 June. Opposition parties have called for a range of consequences, including an investigation and for the president to be placed on a sabbatical until August.
On Friday, DA leader John Steenhuisen said the Namibian police statement constituted “hard evidence that President Ramaphosa used state resources, specifically the Presidential Protection Unit located in SAPS’ VIP Protection Unit” to investigate his “private matter” in the theft from his farm.
Steenhuisen said the president needed to end his silence and “explain this egregious abuse of power to the nation”.
The Farmgate scandal erupted ahead of the release of the highly anticipated final report into the State Capture Inquiry, before Judge Raymond Zondo, which is due to include findings about the State Security Agency. DM
Update on Tuesday, 21 June, 2022: The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services in South Africa responded to the Namibian police’s statement with a denial, saying that there was no record of request in relation to the Phala Phala investigation. “We can categorically state that, to date, there is no official record of this specific request,” it said in a statement.
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