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'I don’t believe I abused my power,' says Ramaphosa about reporting Phala Phala theft to his security boss

Andisiwe Makinana Political correspondent
President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to questions in parliament surrounding cash allegedly kept on his private farm and the frequent power outages.
President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to questions in parliament surrounding cash allegedly kept on his private farm and the frequent power outages.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

President Cyril Ramaphosa repeatedly told parliament on Thursday he believed he was properly reporting the crime when he reported the theft of millions of dollars at his private farm to his head of security.

He sought to dispute an argument that he abused his powers by doing so and by not going to a police station.

“Having reported it to the police official I did believe they would do what they need to do to ensure that this matter is properly handled. That is the extent to which I was able to handle this matter.

“In my book, it was reporting a crime to the police when I did inform a police general,” said Ramaphosa.

He was responding to a question from EFF leader Julius Malema who accused him of abusing his power and office by not going to a police station to report the crime, saying as someone who studied law, Ramaphosa knew the procedure to follow in reporting a crime.

“I don’t believe I abused my power because I am surrounded by police officials, and when I informed the general, I was informing a police official,” said Ramaphosa. “I want to dispute the argument that I abused my power. I am not the type of person who would abuse my position or my power. I did not.”

I want to dispute the argument that I abused my power. I am not the type of person who would abuse my position or my power. I did not.
President Cyril Ramaphosa 

Ramaphosa was more forthcoming about the Phala Phala matter on Thursday, unlike a month ago when he refused to answer MPs’ questions citing legal advice not to go into detail about the matter.

He said he was informed of the theft as soon as it occurred, while travelling in Addis Ababa and that he informed Gen Wally Rhoode, the then head of the presidential protection nit who was travelling with him.

Earlier, Ramaphosa said police will have to answer questions as to why there was no police case or case number for the crime.

Asked by DA leader John Steenhuisen why no case number was ever given and no case opened, he responded: “I reported it as one would report and when you report to a police general you expect that processes will unfold in the way that they should. In the end, the police would be able to answer that question.”

Ramaphosa also revealed that he never set up a blind trust for his business interests as he announced he would in 2014.

“I must say that initially the intention was to set up a blind trust but I did then say I do not intend to be in any other form of business other than the agricultural sector which I’ve declared.

“That is why in the end no such trust was formed because this is the sum total of what I get involved in,” he added.

He said he had declared in parliament and thereafter when he became president to the secretary of the cabinet his farming activities, a “great passion” for cattle farming and agricultural aspects or activities.

Ramaphosa said the entity [Phala Phala] “bought and sold cattle and animals because they multiply and have to either be culled or whatever”.

ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula had asked him about his 2014 announcement that he would hand over his business interests to a blind trust where he will not have any sight of his investments and operations of the business interests.

“If this is the case, why were you the go-to person to take action in the Phala Phala case hence you assigned the head of your protection unit to deal with the matter?” asked Zungula.

He said the farm manager at Phala Phala was the relevant person to take action after the crime occurred.

In May 2014, Ramaphosa announced that his family’s interests would be held in blind trusts and that a review of his business interests which he I initiated soon after his election as ANC deputy president in December 2012 was intended to remove the potential for any conflict of interest and to enable him to effectively perform the functions of his position.

TimesLIVE


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