Two Arrested in High-Stakes Theft at President Ramaphosa’sPhala Phala Farm

In a shocking turn of events, two individuals have been arrested in connection with the audacious robbery at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in 2020. The accused, Imanuwela David, aged 39, and Froliana Joseph, aged 30, appeared in the Bela-Bela Magistrates’ Court after being apprehended by the Hawks in Bela-Bela and Rustenburg. The robbery saw a substantial sum of foreign currency, allegedly hidden under a sofa cushion, vanish from the president’s Limpopo property. These startling revelations and developments have plunged President Ramaphosa into a whirlwind of controversy, nearly jeopardizing his political career.

The robbery, which occurred on the night of February 9, 2020, sent shockwaves through South Africa’s political landscape and triggered a chain of events that could have had far-reaching consequences for President Ramaphosa. The accused now face multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, housebreaking with intent to steal, housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, and money laundering.

What is especially intriguing is the alleged tip-off that led the culprits to the farm. Froliana Joseph, who had previously worked as one of the president’s housekeepers at the farm, is believed to be a central figure in the robbery. Joseph allegedly discovered stacks of cash hidden in furniture at the game farm and subsequently shared this information with her co-accused, Imanuwela David. David, who has ties to Namibia, is thought to be the mastermind behind the operation.

Photo of Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm main entrance. Photo credits: The Mail and Guardian

The detailed account of the events that unfolded is nothing short of a Hollywood thriller. On January 1, 2020, David and Joseph are said to have conspired to commit housebreaking with the intent to steal the cash at Phala Phala farm. On February 8, 2020, David and two accomplices attempted to break into the Stokkiesdraai farm, mistakenly believing it belonged to President Ramaphosa. However, they left empty-handed on that occasion.

The climax of their criminal escapade occurred on the night of February 9, 2020, when they finally located Phala Phala farm. Breaking in with determination, they managed to make off with a staggering US$580,000, which was stashed beneath a sofa cushion. The immediate aftermath of their success saw David indulging in a lavish spending spree, making extravagant purchases that would eventually draw attention to their activities.

As the investigation unfolds, authorities have hinted at a third suspect being arrested soon, potentially providing more pieces to the puzzle of this high-stakes heist. The audacious nature of the crime and the complex web of connections that led to this event have kept the nation gripped with anticipation for further developments.

This incident, which came to be known as the “farmgate” controversy, burst into the public domain in June 2022 when former spy boss Arthur Fraser filed a case accusing President Ramaphosa of concealing the burglary. Fraser’s allegations were damning, claiming that the president, in violation of the law, did not report the robbery to the police but chose instead to inform the head of the Presidential Protection Services, Major-General Wally Rhoode. Furthermore, it was suggested that President Ramaphosa deployed his elite VIP Presidential Protection team to track down the suspects who had fled with the stolen money, leading authorities on a cross-border chase into Namibia.

The president, however, vehemently denied these allegations. In his defense, he maintained that the stolen cash was payment for a herd of buffalo sold to him by Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa on Christmas Day in 2019. He stated that the cash had been tucked away beneath the sofa cushions, awaiting the fulfillment of the conditions precedent to the sale transaction.

President of South Africa, H.E Cyril Ramaphosa

The subsequent investigations into the matter have been extensive and exhaustive. The South African Reserve Bank conducted its own probe, finding that the $580,000 in cash given to a lodge manager in 2020 constituted a “security deposit” rather than a final payment. It was also determined that the foreign currency had been stolen before the conditions precedent to the sale transaction could be met.

Additionally, the Office of the Public Protector cleared President Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing. This independent body, also known as the public protector, concluded that the president’s handling of the case did not breach the constitution.

Nevertheless, the revelation of the robbery and the ensuing investigations cast a long shadow of suspicion over President Ramaphosa’s administration. The incident threatened to derail his political career, with calls for his resignation echoing through the corridors of power. Allegations of breaching ethics codes and covering up a major theft painted a grim picture of the president’s leadership.

This story has been a rollercoaster of intrigue and controversy, with twists and turns that could have come straight out of a thriller novel. The accused pair, Imanuwela David and Froliana Joseph, now find themselves at the center of a legal maelstrom that could determine their fate and further shape the political landscape in South Africa.

As this gripping tale unfolds in the courtroom, the nation is watching closely, eager for justice and answers in a saga that has captivated the public’s imagination and rattled the highest echelons of power, even as law enforcement officers work to apprehend the third suspect.

“The arrest of the third suspect is imminent,” said Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale

The intricate details and layers of this mystery continue to unravel, leaving no doubt that the “farmgate” controversy is a story that will be told for years to come.


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