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Money laundering and housebreaking charges brought against Phala Phala farm theft suspects

Money laundering and housebreaking charges brought against Phala Phala farm theft suspects
Illustrative image | Sources: President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | pngtree | flyclipart

Criminal charges have been brought against two suspects for their alleged role in the theft of $580,000 from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in February 2020. They made their first appearance in a Limpopo court on Tuesday.

Two suspects appeared in Bela-Bela Magistrates’ Court in Limpopo on Tuesday in connection with the burglary at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in February 2020.

Imanuwela David (39) and Froliana Joseph (30) face three charges: Conspiracy to commit housebreaking with intent to steal and theft; housebreaking with intent to steal; and housebreaking with intent to steal and theft. David faces an additional count of money laundering.

The charges relate to the theft of a large sum of US dollars that had reportedly been stashed in couches on Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Reserve Bank’s buffalo-sized Phala Phala cop-out puts President Ramaphosa in the clear

“The pair were arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) on Sunday and Monday, respectively,” said Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, regional spokesperson for the NPA’s Limpopo division.

“The investigations revealed that between 1 January 2020 [sic], the accused persons conspired to commit housebreaking with intent to steal and theft at Phala Phala farm, and on 8 January 2020, Imanuwela with two others entered Stokkiesdraai farm believing that it was Phala Phala farm. 

Phala Phala

Imanuwela David (left) and Froliana Joseph in Bela-Bela Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, 7 November. (Photo: Supplied / NPA)

“They broke and entered but nothing was stolen. The following night they located the Phala Phala farm where they broke, entered and stole $580,000.”

Joseph was allegedly employed at the Phala Phala farm at the time of the theft, according to Malabi-Dzhangi.

The accused made a brief appearance in court before the matter was postponed to Friday, 10 November, to allow time for David to arrange legal representation. A formal bail application has yet to be made and the suspects remain in police custody.

The Hawks have indicated that the arrest of the third suspect is imminent.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa’s Farmgate scandal – a timeline of what we know (and don’t know) so far

Read more in Daily Maverick: Two suspects arrested for alleged role in 2020 burglary at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm to appear in court

The Farmgate scandal

The 2020 break-in at Phala Phala only became public knowledge in June 2022, when former head of the State Security Agency (SSA) Arthur Fraser filed a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa in relation to the theft. He alleged that Ramaphosa had failed to report the incident to the police, instead charging the then head of his Presidential Protection Unit, Major-General Wally Rhoode, with the task of finding the criminal and retrieving the money.

Fraser further claimed that Rhoode and his team had kidnapped and interrogated suspects before paying them to keep quiet about what had happened.

It was only after Fraser laid the criminal complaint against Ramaphosa that the Hawks took over the investigation into the break-in from the Presidential Protection Unit.

Ramaphosa has repeatedly denied any culpability in the events surrounding the theft at Phala Phala. A report by acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka cleared the President of all wrongdoing in relation to the incident in June 2023. 

The report found that Ramaphosa had not acted improperly or violated the Executive Ethics Code by exposing himself to any risk of a conflict between his constitutional duties and his private interests, and that he had not abused his power in using state resources to investigate the theft at Phala Phala.

However, Gcaleka did find that Rhoode had acted improperly in his handling of the crime. He failed to open a case docket and register an official criminal investigation with the South African Police Service, instead pursuing an unofficial investigation. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Wacky Me says:

    At last! Found some scape goats. My my what has changed

  • Gary De Sousa says:

    So many questions,so many cover ups?

  • Alan Watkins says:

    Aaaaah but since the sale was not “perfected” the money did not belong to Ramaposer, so who laid the charges? 🙂

  • Andre Niemann says:

    David was employed at Phala-Phala, but went to the wrong Farm at first? This does not make sense.
    Secondly, why will a renowned Businessman such as Cyril Ramaphosa stash cash in the Lounge Suite (Couches) instead of a Safe?
    This does not tie up at all….

  • Alan Salmon says:

    The rich and powerful never pay for their crimes – some poor small timer takes the hit every time !!

  • William Stucke says:

    She worked at Phala Phala, but they broke into the wrong farm, Stokkiesdraai? Seriously? How can anyone be that stupid?

    Furthermore, the CCTV footage showed several people crawling around, not just these 2 incompetent miscreants and their soon-to-be-arrested accomplice.

  • Pet Bug says:

    Hilarious.
    Pity Imanuwela didn’t break a smile. Aren’t his teeth bedecked in diamonds?

  • Herman Higgins says:

    So David and two other unnamed accomplices broke into the wrong farm (Stokkiesdraai) on 8 January, and then the following night they got it right by breaking into the right farm (Phala Phala)? How then was David able to get Joseph so quickly on board? Did David threaten her the moment they arrived on Phala Phala? Or was she (Joseph) part of the plot all along? It seems that Joseph holds the key to everything. Because David and his two mates seemed wholly incompetent. They got the wrong farm. Clearly they were amateurs. All of them. It smells like something only the SSA under the guidance of Arthur Fraser could plan and execute. Amateurs.

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