/ 6 June 2022

Fraser’s case has Ramaphosa mulling another ANC integrity committee appearance

Ramaphosa And Mtn's Offshore Stash
ANC head of presidency Sibongile Besani says no party structure has complained about the president since former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid the corruption charges against him.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is prepared to subject himself to the integrity committee, the head of the presidency in the ANC, Sibongile Besani, has told the Mail & Guardian

ANC officials were expected to be locked in meetings on Monday to mull the fallout from the corruption case opened against Ramaphosa last week by former spy boss Arthur Fraser.

While those close to Ramaphosa are said to be worried about public perception of the president, two insiders said they did not believe his detractors would win in a battle for him to step aside when the national working committee meets this afternoon. 

Speaking to the M&G on Monday, Besani said there was no issue about the conduct of the president because it was common cause that he had been a victim of a crime. No structure of the ANC had complained about the matter, Besani added.

“The president has always been prepared to cooperate with structures of the ANC, including the integrity commission,” he said. 

Fraser opened a case of money laundering, kidnapping and corruption against Ramaphosa over the alleged theft of $4-million at the head of state’s home in 2020. Police national spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe confirmed that “a case of money laundering, defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping” had been registered at the Rosebank station in Johannesburg last Wednesday.

Fraser said he had laid charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. He said supporting evidence including photographs, bank accounts, video footage and names, had been handed to Rosebank police, along with his statement.

He said the charges related to the theft of $4-million (R62-million) “concealed” at the president’s farm in the Waterberg region of Limpopo on 9 February 2020. The charges would include defeating the ends of justice, kidnapping of suspects, their interrogation on his property and bribery.

“The president concealed the crime from the SAPS [South African Police Service] and the South African Revenue Service and thereafter paid the culprits for their silence.”

He said Ramaphosa’s conduct and that of others involved constituted a breach of anti-corruption laws. 

Speaking at the ANC’s Limpopo conference on Sunday evening, the president denied having stolen money from the taxpayers. 

Ramaphosa said this was part of a political ploy to cast aspersion on him because of his undeterred fight against corruption. 

Fraser is a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma. His release of the former head of state on medical parole after he was jailed for contempt of court was declared unlawful by the high court and Fraser’s contract as national commissioner of correctional services was not renewed earlier this year.

The M&G reported on Sunday that Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen had written to South African Revenue Service commissioner Edward Kieswetter on Friday requesting that Sars investigate whether the money stolen at the game farm had been declared and whether the transaction had implications in terms of the Income Tax Act and the Tax Administration Act.

“I want to assure you that all this was money from proceeds from selling animals. I have never stolen anywhere, be it from our taxpayers, be it from anyone. I have never done so and will never do so. My integrity as a leader will never allow me to do so. I will never be able to do so,” Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

Ramaphosa volunteered to appear before the committee of elders in December 2020 over allegations that close to a billion was used towards his campaign for party president in the watershed 2017 Nasrec conference. 

He was accompanied by a lawyer and, according to the committee head, George Mashamba, he failed to discuss the CR17 campaign. Mashamba said Ramaphosa had ducked the commission for 18 months. While the committee did not make any adverse findings against him, it called for any party member with knowledge of the CR17 campaign using money to install Ramaphosa in the top seat to come forward. 

On Monday, suspended ANC MP Mervyn Dirks, who had forced the parliamentary inquiry into allegations that Ramaphosa knew about looting of state entities for party funding, entered the fray with an open letter calling on the president to account over the stolen money.

Dirks, a leader of the radical economic transformation (RET) faction in the ANC, said in the letter that Ramaphosa was “duty bound” to take South Africans into his confidence over the details of the game sale and whether the transactions had been reported to Sars and the Reserve Bank.

He said Ramaphosa needed to explain why he had not reported the matter to the police beyond informing the presidential protection services. “As you are aware, PPU [presidential protection unit] members provide you with protection instead of doing investigations. What made you feel ‘satisfied and consider the matter closed’ when the matter was not reported at the police station and a dedicated investigating officer was never assigned to it?”

“You claim that you did not report his serious crime to the authorities so as to not cause panic. Don’t you think that your neighbours and other South Africans deserved to know about the crime as part of raising awareness and mobilise joint efforts to fight this scourge?” Dirks wrote.

He called on Ramaphosa to cooperate with the authorities. 

“I hope that you will walk the talk by cooperating with the police and other relevant authorities through amongst others availing as much information that is in your possession as this will enable those entities to expeditiously investigate, without fear, favour or prejudice, this case. I also hope that the NPA will not hesitate to prosecute whoever is implicated in criminal wrongdoing,” Dirks wrote.