Defend Truth


Sixteen critical questions to be asked in probing Phala Phala game farm heist


Lumko Mtimde is a former Special Adviser to the Minister in the Presidency. He is also an ANC and SACP member.

The narrative surrounding the robbery has not probed critical questions that need to be answered by the former head of state security, Police Minister Bheki Cele, the Presidential Protection Unit and the State Security Agency.

When full transparency is limited by legal constraints, citizens become disadvantaged in assessing for themselves the truth or otherwise of a story. In such situations, society gets subjected to multiple opinions — with limitations — from analysts, speculation, “independent” investigations and media reports. The accused suffers the consequences of stories told based on one side of the facts.

The amaBhungane report on the theft from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm relied on information from the affidavit deposed by Arthur Fraser in the case he opened and interviews with a few of the affected parties — but with no version from the Phala Phala farm manager, President Ramaphosa, the SAPS Presidential Protection Unit (PPU), State Security Agency, etc.

As a result, the “evidence” in the Arthur Fraser case file, including an edited video from the security camera footage, is a limited source of information for the public interest. We need to use the Marxist-Leninist theory of seeking truth from facts, which requires sharp tools and probing questions to provide a theoretical basis for the implementation of thought. The basic premise of seeking truth from facts is that everything starts from reality, and the essence is to use materialism to explain and answer philosophical questions.

Despite the fact that the law of evidence provides that the burden of proof lies with the one making the allegations, we also know that when the Office of the President is the focus, information and communication are critical for informed public discourse. Waiting for the conclusion of the legal process, while correct, could unfairly compromise the office, the president as a victim of burglary, and other affected parties.   

The amaBhungane report and the Fraser case opened at the Rosebank Police Station provide one body of statements, and the edited and possibly doctored burglary video. The President’s official statement, his address at the ANC Limpopo conference and answers in Parliament confirm the cash business resulting from the proceeds from the sale of game and Ankole cattle, but for far less than the cash amounts alleged by Arthur Fraser.

The Namibian government has also issued a statement rejecting those aspects in the Arthur Fraser statement implicating Namibian president Hage Geingob in the matter.

We read that further investigations are being instituted by the Hawks, SAPS, SARS, the Public Protector, the Information Regulator in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act etc, and that the National Prosecuting Authority will accordingly process information and decide on a course of action.

Meanwhile, what do we do as the public? It is impossible for the public to be silent and await the above-mentioned outcomes, therefore, unavoidably, dialogues continue. The narrative on several media platforms has not probed critical questions that need to be answered by the former head of state security, Police Minister Bheki Cele, the PPU and the SSA, viz:

  1. Where is the full burglary video footage? Is it with the SSA, the farm manager or the SAPS Presidential Unit?
  2. Why are Arthur Fraser and Julius Malema showing South Africa the edited version of the video?
  3. How did the intruders access the information about the farm? Are the facts provided in the Arthur Fraser witness statement the full truth? Were intelligence operatives involved in the saga?
  4. Were the referred-to dollars always stored in the referred-to areas or were they stored by someone? Is the farm manager aware of this dollar storage?
  5. When did Arthur Fraser get to know about this? Did he benefit or was he promised benefit from the saga?
  6. Are the proceeds of game sales stored in the same places? Does the farm manager have records of transactions and payments from the sales? Do the records reconcile with Arthur Fraser’s account?
  7. How much cash was there, according to the farm records?
  8. Is having and trading in cash and foreign currency on a farm a crime? Did the farm comply with Exchange Control Regulations?
  9. Does President Ramaphosa get involved in managing sales and the proceeds thereof? Or is this the domain of the farm manager? Is the President even operationally involved in the business? Is that even possible?
  10. Is the reporting of the incident to the SAPS PPU not legal enough?
  11. Is the President a victim of the crime of burglary crime or a perpetrator?
  12. Was Arthur Fraser the head of the SSA at the time of the incident, or Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services as his witness statement suggests? If the latter, how did he access the information?
  13. Was Arthur Fraser not required by law to report this information to the directors general in the security cluster, the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (Nicoc) and the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI)?
  14. Has Arthur Fraser not violated his oath of office, the National Intelligence Services Act and several related statutes?
  15. Has SARS probed Arthur Fraser?
  16. Did Arthur Fraser compromise the safety of a sitting President’s public and private life?

We are in a digital era and we should use it to our advantage. We can access information available to the public in Parliament regarding declarations of business interests of the President. Further, the rules of auction in the game farming industry are publicly available from Stud Game Breeders, and it seems acceptable to use cash or any payment method acceptable to the auctioneer.

The current dialogues have been correctly seeking the truth from the president. As I indicate though, there are other stakeholders that need to answer here, like the farm manager. The media has a responsibility to probe further and provide all sides of this story towards seeking the truth in the public interest. The media exists to serve society and must scrutinise the information independently and enable society to make informed judgements in this matter of national interest.

While allowing and respecting the investigation process to unfold, the media has the tools to probe. Asking the above questions is not in defence of any stakeholder but is intended to seek the truth from facts. DM




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