The Namibian Ministry of Justice requested South African authorities to confirm whether or not the February 2020 Phala Phala farm robbery was “registered” – but got no response.
This is according to a statement by S.H. Ndeitunga, the Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Force, on Thursday (16 June).
No ‘dirty work’ for Ramaphosa
Ndeitunga denied media reports that claimed the Namibian Police had done “dirty work” for President Cyril Ramaphosa to conceal the robbery. Ramaphosa owns the Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.
According to Ndeitunga, the Namibian police arrested one of the suspects in the robbery, David Imanuwela, on 13 June 2020 for entering Namibia illegally. Imanuwela subsequently pleaded guilty. He was fined and ordered to leave the country within 48 hours, which he did on 14 November 2020.
“It is worth noting that indeed the two police authorities met on 19 June 2020 at what is termed ‘no-mans’ land near Noordoewer, ǁKaras Region to share operational information pertaining to Mr David lmanuwela and other Namibian nationals suspected to have stolen money in South Africa and fled to Namibia,” Ndeitunga said.
“It should be clear that the meeting venue was determined by restriction measures of COVID-19 at the time. The meeting resolved for the two police authorities to investigate the matter within their jurisdiction.”
The Namibian police subsequently identified individuals, bank accounts and properties, including lodges, houses and vehicles, suspected to have been bought with the proceeds of crime. They then sought a preservation order.
“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,” the Inspector-General said.
“However. no response was received from South African authorities. resulting in the cancellation of the preservation order and release of assets.”
The South African government has not yet responded to the Namibian Police Force’s statement. However, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen used it to accuse Ramaphosa of using “state resources, specifically the Presidential Protection Unit located in SAPS’ VIP Protection Unit, to investigate his private business matter of the theft of millions of dollars from his Phala Phala farm.”
“Effectively, while he had the nation locked down in June 2020 with millions of citizens unable to earn a living, he was using their money to pursue the thieves who stole his four million dollars in cash. He needs to end his silence on this matter and explain this egregious abuse of power to the nation,” Steenhuise said in a statement on Friday.
Ramaphosa has denied any involvement in criminal conduct, but has refused to shed more light on the robbery and allegations of bribery, kidnapping and money laundering made by former State Security Agency boss Arthur Fraser. He has instead insisted on “due process” being followed.
UPDATE: The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development said on 21 June that there is “no official record” of a request for mutual legal assistance from Namibia regarding Imanuwela.