Phala Phala theft suspect has a newborn child
The domestic worker fingered as the alleged brains behind the break-in at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm has requested that she be given permission to breastfeed her newborn child while in custody.
This was revealed during the first court appearance by Froliana Joseph and Imanuwela David in the Bela Bela magistrate's court on Tuesday.
The pair were arrested and charged for the February 2020 break-in and theft of $580,000 (R10.6m) at Ramaphosa’s farm in Limpopo. David was arrested in Rustenburg on Sunday and Joseph was arrested on Monday. Hawks spokesperson Col Katelgo Mogale said a third suspect was expected to be arrested soon.
The two suspects face charges of conspiracy of housebreaking, conspiracy of theft, theft, and housebreaking with intent to steal. David faces an additional charge of money laundering.
During the brief court proceedings, Joseph, through her lawyer Ramoloko Mike Mokgobu, told the court she recently gave birth and her newborn baby requires her attention.
“My client requests she be afforded an opportunity to be able to breastfeed her child three times a day at the local police station while she is in custody. This is not an application for bail. However, we would like to make a request to the court to grant her that permission,” said Mokgobu.
Magistrate Predeshni Poonan told the court arrangements would be made for Joseph to care for her child.
She is expected to apply for bail on Friday, while David is yet to appoint a legal representative.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said the state believes David and Joseph initially attempted to break into a different farm on February 8 2020 before they successfully broke in to Phala Phala.
David, in a recorded interview reported by the Sunday Times last year, was heard saying he was alerted to the stash of dollars hidden in a sofa at Ramaphosa’s farm by a cleaner. She sent his cousin a sample of 200 notes to prove they were not counterfeit, whereupon they decided to break in to the farm.
The theft came to light when former director-general at the State Security Agency, Arthur Fraser, opened a case of kidnapping and money laundering against Ramaphosa, the head of the Presidential Protection Services Maj-Gen Wally Rhoode, and Crime Intelligence members for allegedly concealing the break in.
Ramaphosa said the cash was paid to his former farm manager, Sylvester Ndlovu, by Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa on Christmas Day in 2019 as he wanted to purchase a herd of buffalo. Ramaphosa allegedly failed to report the burglary to the police, but chose to report it to Rhoode instead.
It was further alleged Ramaphosa used the VIP Presidential Protection team to pursue the people who stole the money, which took them all the way to Namibia.
In August, South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago defended the bank's investigation into the Phala Phala theft, saying its investigation found the cash handed to a lodge manager in 2020 was a “security deposit” and not a final payment.
“The foreign currency was stolen before the conditions precedent to the sale transaction could be fulfilled,” he said.
The public protector's office also cleared Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing.
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