Phala Phala Farm is owned by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. In 2022, he was embroiled in a major political crisis when Arthur Fraser, the former chief of the State Security Agency, filed a criminal complaint against him in connection with the Phala Phala heist, which reportedly resulted in the theft of $4 million (R60 million).
Ramaphosa faced impeachment in late 2022 when it was revealed that a heist occurred at his farm in February 2020, during which a considerable sum of foreign cash was allegedly taken.
He, on the other hand, maintained his innocence, claiming that he did nothing wrong because he was not involved in the crime.
After a series of investigations, the president was cleared of any wrongdoing by the acting public protector in March 2023.
Phala Phala Farm, also known as Phala Phala Wildlife Farm, is located in Limpopo Province, some 43 kilometres west of Bela-Bela. The farm, which is located in the Central Bushveld Bio-region, is part of a new rare game breeding group of farms.
As a result, it tries to contribute to the improvement and expansion of South Africa’s conservation efforts by assisting in the preservation of the country’s animal heritage.
President Cyril Ramaphosa owns Phala Phala Farm. Since 2010, the renowned wildlife farm has been in operation. It covers an area of 4,500 hectares (11,120 acres).
Keeping true to its name, ‘Phala,’ which is a Tswana word for a ‘Impala Buck’ or’red antelope,’ the farm concentrates on collecting the greatest genetics in buffalo, golden oryx, white impala, roan antelope, and roan antelope.
Over the years, Phala Phala Farm has demonstrated that its focused genetic selection technique is correct by producing offspring of these well-chosen top-quality animals, which have given the president millions of rands.
Private auctions organized by various groups of wildlife breeders in the nation and abroad are frequently held at the property.
According to Sunday World, Ramaphosa has made more than R60 million from the sale of game at the Phala Phala Farm, based on data from Stud Game Breeders. The following sales are shown in auction data dating back to 2017:
- In September 2017, Cyril Ramaphosa made R2.7 million from a private auction and also netted R14.6 million via a live auction.
- In September 2018, R2.4 million was generated in sales through a silent auction and also, R14.7 million from a live auction.
- Five months before Phala Phala Farm was robbed in February 2020, the president took in R14 million from both the silent and live auctions.
- In March 2020, the auction brought in only R135,000 as the robbery seemed to have slowed down the sales of animals at the farm.
- In September 2020, animals valued at R4 million were sold at Phala Phala.
- In March 2021, the farm brought in R1 million from auctions.
- In September 2022, animals worth R6.4 million were sold at Phala Phala Wildlife Farm.
It is worth noting that the president first joined Stud Game Breeder in 2010. He also owns another property in Mpumalanga named Ntaba Nyoni.
When Ramaphosa was elected president of South Africa in 2018, he revealed to parliament and the cabinet secretary that he is a cattle and game farmer who owns various farms in the country, including Phala Phala.
When his farm was looted in 2020, he was charged by Arthur Fraser, the former chief of the State Security Agency, of hiding a crime and defeating the objectives of justice by violating the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004.
In addition to failing to notify the crime that happened at his Phala Phala Farm, Fraser claimed that Cyril Ramaphosa neglected to reveal to the Reserve Bank the existence of a considerable sum of foreign cash secreted in a sofa at the farmhouse. He further said that the suspects were finally abducted and interrogated at the property and were bribed not to tell anybody about the occurrence.
Following claims that he violated his oath of office in handling the heist, the president maintained his innocence. He added that he had worked hard during his presidency to uphold his oath of office while also respecting the constitution, institutions, due process, and the rule of law.
He further stated that, despite the fact that the theft occurred while he was in Ethiopia for the African Union Summit, he reported the incident to the director of the Presidential Protection team, which handled the investigations.
He went on to say that he didn’t make the theft public because he didn’t want to frighten the farming community.
Arthur Fraser filed a criminal complaint against Cyril Ramaphosa at Rosebank police station in Johannesburg on June 1, 2022. He accused the president of money laundering, bribery, abduction, and hiding a crime in regard to the alleged theft at his Phala Phala Farm, where $4 million (R60 million) was stolen, in a 12-page sworn declaration.
He provided CCTV video, papers, and images of the alleged theft to back up his affidavit. According to Arthur Fraser, a domestic worker at Phala Phala Farm spotted the foreign money stashed under the sofa. She resided off the farm in the settlement of Cyferskyl, which was home to many Namibians at the time.
And she shared her discoveries with some of her neighbours, who enlisted the help of several Namibians living in Cape Town.
Following that, the group, which allegedly included four Namibians and two South Africans, allegedly stormed into the Phala Phala Farmhouse at 10 p.m. on February 9th, 2020, and the heist was supposedly filmed on CCTV. The thieves were alleged to have entered the incorrect room at first, but were guided by the domestic worker to the room where the foreign cash was stashed. They stole a big sum of money and escaped to Cape Town.
The suspects were finally tracked down to Cape Town when the president directed the commander of the Presidential Protection Unit, Major General Wally Rhoode, to investigate the incident. The domestic worker confessed after being questioned, and her communications with the criminals were also investigated. The suspects, according to Fraser, were abducted and questioned at the property.
He further stated that they returned the stolen money since it had already been converted into rands at a Chinese money exchange in Cape Town. He further claimed that the suspects were given R150,000 to be silent, and that the domestic worker was paid the same amount. Despite being sacked, she was restored and granted another position at the company.
The following are the identities of the suspects named in Arthur Fraser’s complaint:
- Petrus Afrikaner
- Petrus Muhekeni
- Urbanus Shaumbwako
- Erkki Shikongo
- Immanuwela David
According to Arthur Fraser’s sworn affidavit, about $4 million (R60 million) in undeclared foreign cash was taken on or about February 9th, 2020 at Phala Phala Farm. Even while the president confirmed that a crime occurred on that day at his property, he disputed that such a large sum was stolen. He later stated that the farm had been robbed for $580,000 (R9.5 million).
The funds were obtained from the sale of 20 buffaloes in December 2019. He claimed to have sold the animals to Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa for cash (although, the sold animals had been on the farm for over two years).
However, after the DA leader, John Steenhuisen lodged a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in December 2022, it was discovered that Mustafa did not declare the cash he brought into the country.
Meanwhile, the businessman claimed to have a copy of the declaration he completed upon landing at OR Tambo International Airport but never showed the document to journalists. Cyril Ramaphosa stated that Hazim Mustafa handed the $580,000 to Phala Phala Farm’s employee, Sylvester Ndlovu who then kept the money safe in the main building by stashing it under cushions in the president’s house on the farm.
On the contrary, there had been reports that more than the amount declared stolen by the president at the farm was actually taken. It was alleged that the investigators who interrogated the suspects disclosed that they took about 20 million to Namibia but didn’t clarify the currency. However, whether it was in $US or ZAR, the money taken is more than the amount declared by the president.
Even though Arthur Fraser alleged that the theft of around $4 million (R60 million) took place at Phala Phala Farm, the amount of cash stolen is still indeterminate.
According to Independent Media’s Investigation team known as the Falcons, at least $4 million was stolen at Phala Phala Farm. They also revealed that more than $100 million was hidden at the farm and that about $140 million (approximately R2 billion according to 2020 exchange rates) was reportedly moved to Phala Phala Farm through Waterkloof Air Force Base. The money stayed there for over a month before the theft occurred in February 2020.
It was alleged that in July 2018, when President Ramaphosa visited Saudi Arabia, the country donated $20 million to the African National Congress which they referred to as Nelson Mandela‘s party. Saudi Arabia further donated another $20 million to the party later on and the donations were reportedly made on the condition that the SA government did not give any form of support to Qatar and also based on an expectation of an oil deal partnership between both countries.
Then Ramaphosa’s closest adviser, Bejani Chauke was reported to have received $10 million from Qatar through French-born, Phillippe Solomons who resides in Doha. The president was also said to have received $10 million from Equatorial Guinea’s Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, who in return expected him to use his power to convince the courts in South Africa to rule in his favor in order to facilitate the return of his assets confiscated in France.
The Falcons further reported that Cyril Ramaphosa, according to a source received $40 million during his one-day trip to Egypt in late 2022. He then reportedly roped in two businessmen identified as Karl and Zahir to help him launder the money through dubious property deals after the Phala Phala scandal erupted.
In August 2022, numerous opposition parties in parliament asked for the president to be impeached for the Phala Phala affair. As a result, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula appointed an independent panel convened by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo to determine whether Cyril Ramaphosa has a case to answer in the Section 89 impeachment petition.
On November 30th, 2022, the panel announced that based on their findings, the president had an impeachment case to answer since he violated various constitutions. However, votes on impeachment procedures were held the following month, and 148 of the 214 ANC members voted in favour of Ramaphosa. As a result, the impeachment motion was defeated.
Furthermore, the acting public protector exonerated the president of any culpability in the Phala Phala heist affair in March 2023. After finishing an investigation into the matter in January 2023, the public protector issued an official report claiming that Cyril Ramaphosa broke the Executive Ethics Code and had a conflict of interest between his constitutional duty.