Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa Photo: MGN Online

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, an anti-apartheid figure—once suggested as Nelson Mandela’s successor to the presidency—has been mired in a scandal that involves undeclared money. Recently, a stash of U.S. currency was discovered in the cushions of a couch on a farm owned by the president.

According to several media reports, Ramaphosa declared he is innocent of charges that he hid at least $580,000 in a sofa at his game ranch. He is being accused of not registering the money with the government, or if it was subseqently stolen, not reporting the theft to authorities.

“Ramaphosa’s future now hangs in the balance following a scathing report by an independent panel released on Dec. 28, 2022, which concluded that he may have broken anti-corruption laws over the 2020 theft of $580,000 stored in a sofa at his Phala Phala game farm,” reported December 7, 2022.

Arthur Fraser, former head of South Africa’s State Security Agency, accused Ramaphosa filed a complaint regarding the mysterious money. Fraser alleged that a close aide of Ramaphosa, Bejani Chauke, brought “large sums” of U.S. dollars from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, and Equatorial Guinea. Adding to the intrigue, Fraser alleged that the aide hid the money in a couch at his home in a plush suburb in South Africa’s main city Johannesburg, before taking the cash to Ramaphosa’s game farm with his ‘full knowledge and acquiescence,’” reported BBC.


But in a nightmare for Ramaphosa, robbers, allegedly working in cahoots with one of his employees, stole what is speculated to be somewhere between $4 million and $8 million, Redge Nkosi, the Pretoria-based founder and executive director of First Source Money and Public Banking of South Africa, told Africa Watch. Nkosi is also a former member of both the Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki administrations.

Nkosi also said, “When that money was stolen some Namibian guys came and stole that money. And these guys splashed this money. These guys ran to Namibia and Namibian government got involved.”

He added: “What happened was the South African president ordered his bodyguard to go and hunt for (the robbers) and he went and hunted them in Namibia. They are Namibians but they have South African papers. So, you have to remember that Namibians are Southern Africans so there is a lot of fluidity there.”

According to the New York Times, “Namibian investigators tracing money transfers by men suspected of stealing wads of cash from President Ramaphosa … say their cross-border calls for help went unanswered.”

The robbers were caught because of their flashing and spending large sums of money. 

Nkosi explained when they were caught, it affected Namibian president Hage Geingob who reportedly denied hearing anything about the money theft. Without saying what the actual occurrences were, Nkosi said, “There was a lot of things that happened between Cyril Ramaphosa and the president of Namibia that connected them.” reported that one of the suspects, Imanuwela David, a Namibian national with a South African passport, was arrested after illegally crossing into Namibia. David’s link to the theft became apparent to Namibian journalists roughly four days later when a Namibian police statement revealed that David purchased a TAG Hauer watch worth $1,800, a Rolex watch worth $18,000 and a gold chain worth $10,600.

According to a post on The Namibian Media/News Company Facebook page, President Geingob said if he was in any way involved with the “covering up of robbery” the evidence should be presented in court.

According to Fraser, Ramaphosa asked Geingob to assist, utilizing “unofficial” back channels with help in finding robbery suspects. 

Ramaphosa survived an impeachment vote in parliament, which strengthened his hand in the December 16-20, 55th National Conference of the ANC party conference vote, which he won.

According to Nkosi, “There is a  prima facie (on first impression until proven otherwise) case against the president to answer for all these things.”

He added that people think Ramaphosa is trying to delay in courts to maintain his position as president. “This is what people think. He is also delaying influencing the prosecution authority, to charge him quickly because he wants to first be elected as president. So, we still waiting for a criminal charge by the prosecution authority, but according to the investigation by our parliament, they say the president has a case to answer for,” Nkosi added.

Africa Watch asked Nkosi if the “Farmgate” theft issue comes up for prosecution before the 2024 national elections “is Ramaphosa toast?”

“It may not go as far as 2024,” Nkosi responded. “Our sense is that he may be charged in the next few months. And if he’s charged, he has to resign immediately. He can’t be a president of the ANC; he can’t be a (sitting) president of the country either”

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