President Cyril Ramaphosa’s head of security tried to blame a dead police officer for the farm robbery… and Namibian president Hage Geingov faces another investigation over the incident.
Yesterday four police generals, including former national police commissioner Khehla Sitole, branded Cyril Ramaphosa’s head of presidential protection service Wally Rhoode “a shameless liar” who was trying to use a dead colleague to cover up his role in the Farmgate scandal.
The generals’ response came after Rhoode allegedly told the public protector inquiry into the theft at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in Bela-Bela, where an undisclosed amount of US dollars was stolen but no case was opened with the police, that the blame should lie squarely with the late Sindile Mfazi for failing to implement a “full-scale investigation” into the Phala Phala farm theft.
One general, who asked not to be named because he isn’t authorised to speak to the media, said: “I can tell you without any shadow of doubt that this shameless liar never reported the matter to General Mfazi and he is now trying to use Sindile’s name to cover up for the clandestine operation they conducted to trace and arrest the men responsible for robbing the president’s farm.”
Five Namibian nationals broke into the farm on February 9, 2020, and stole an undisclosed amount of American dollars found concealed in furniture, including in a mattress, and Rhoode now claims that he “brought the matter to the attention” of Lieutenant-General Mfazi, a highly decorated officer responsible for crime detection, who reportedly succumbed to Covid-19 complications in July 2021.
In his response, Rhoode said: “I assumed that General Mfazi, as part of his full-scale investigation, would follow the prescribed process.”
An indignant Sitole said he concurred with the sentiments expressed by the other generals and believed Rhoode was using Mfazi’s name for his own convenience.
Sitole said: “Rhoode used to report directly to me and not Mfazi. I can confirm to you that while I was a national police commissioner, Mfazi and I were never made aware of any security breach or robbery at the president’s farm.
“It can’t be true that the farm robbery was brought to General Mfazi’s attention and there’s no way that Rhoode could have reported a serious matter like a robbery at the president’s residence to my junior and not tell me, his direct commander.”
Sitole said protocol dictated that Rhoode would have reported a crime of that nature in writing, even when such a matter was classified.
“There is no such report in the police system because the matter was never reported to Mfazi or myself,” said Sitole.
Sitole also refuted Rhoode’s claim, in his response to the public protector, where the presidential protection services chief said the national police commissioner “authorised” his trip to Namibia with Ramaphosa’s envoy for Africa, Bejani Chauke, on June 25, 2020.
The Sunday Independent reported last week that Rhoode and Chauke had met with Namibian police officers in no man’s land, a neutral place at the countries’ border, before being flown to Windhoek where Chauke met Namibian President Hage Geingob the following morning.
“When I authorised a trip for protection duties, it simply means that Rhoode is allowed to drive that car when the president is inside it. He isn’t allowed to drive around with the president’s envoy. I think fraud was committed on this trip,” said Sitole.
Rhoode has admitted that he was tasked by Ramaphosa to investigate the theft.
The new national police commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, also confirmed in his response to the public protector inquiry that “no case was opened/registered following the alleged theft at the president’s property (on) Phala Phala farm”.
Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane opened an inquiry into the matter after receiving a complaint from MP and African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyolwethu Zungula following a Sunday Independent revelation that resources were used while investigating the Phala Phala theft.
Mkhwebane then sent a list of questions to people of interest, including Rhoode and Ramaphosa, who received 31 questions.
But Mkhwebane was suspended by Ramaphosa a day after sending the questions and there is a parliamentary inquiry currently about her fitness to hold office. Her lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu, wants Ramaphosa subpoenaed to explain whether he suspended her because of her investigation into Farmgate.
Today the Sunday Independent can reveal that Rhoode, in his response to the public protector’s questions, was economical with the truth and failed to make a full disclosure.
He claimed: “It would not be correct to characterise these interviews as interrogation, which implies a degree of forcefulness.”
But what he didn’t disclose is that the mother of Ramaphosa’s domestic worker at the farm, Floriana Joseph, and her brother, David, went to the Bela-Bela police station to open a case of kidnapping and torture against him, Rhoode. The case has since “disappeared from the police system” and that there is a photo of David with his hands tied to his back while Rhoode was interrogating him.
“Wally (Rhoode) lies with impunity. How can you claim that someone whose hands you have tied behind their back volunteered to be interviewed?” said another police general, who asked not to be named.
Rhoode also claims that he was with Chauke on June 25, 2020, “where we drove to no man’s land and waited for Namibian police to meet us”, but the Namibian police chief, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, in a press statement said the meeting was
on June 19, 2020 “at what is termed as no man’s land near Noordoewer, Karas region, to share operational information pertaining to Mr David Imanuwela and other Namibian nationals suspected to have stolen money in South Africa and (to have) fled to Namibia”.
In the press statement, Ndeitunga stated that “the meeting resolved for the two police authorities to investigate the matter within their jurisdiction”.
Mfazi’s family suspected foul play following his death last year. They didn’t accept initial reports that he had died of Covid-19 complications and had his body exhumed for an autopsy.
It has now been confirmed that Mfazi was poisoned after carbon monoxide was found in his blood when tests were conducted.
Yesterday police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe confirmed that there was ongoing investigation into Mfazi’s death.
The mystery surrounding the death of Mfazi is deepening, as other police sources confirmed that he didn't die of Covid-19, but that he was poisoned.
Mfazi was poisoned with casting resin, a poisonous and hazardous chemical substance used to manufacture and produce moulds, plastic toys, and figurines.
Three senior police executives told News24 that a toxicology study conducted on Mfazi's remains showed that he was poisoned with resin. Symptoms of resin poisoning included vomiting blood, severe pain in the abdomen, mouth, ears, eyes, and drooling.
But his body was exhumed and sent for toxicology tests after rumours that he was poisoned surfaced.
One of the sources said: "The effects of casting resin poisoning are similar to when a person is killed by poisoning with carbon monoxide. He bled a lot. He was bleeding through the mouth, nose, and ears. There was blood everywhere."
Mfazi was an experienced career cop who had spent over 40 years in the service. The source said the police suspected foul play as volumes of documents and files were taken away from his home.
"As soon as he died, his house was cleared. They removed documents, files, and his laptop. We suspect foul play because Mfazi was investigating very sensitive cases.
Another officer police officer said Mfazi was exhumed at the insistence of his brother, a Cape Town-based lawyer.
"He was confiding in his brother about the PPE investigation. The family was not satisfied by the explanation that Covid-19 killed him. His brother insisted that we exhume him. We did, and this is what the toxicology reports are showing us. He was definitely poisoned. He was poisoned with resin. We are now going to investigate a case of murder," the police officer said.
The third source said: "On the morning he died, he called his wife and told her that he was not well. He went to a day clinic and was released after being diagnosed with Covid. It was clearly not Covid-19. If it were, they would have admitted him."
The officer said somebody cleaned Mfazi's bedroom using "strong" chemicals to remove all traces of blood.
"You know that forensic people can detect blood on a crime scene even if it was washed and cleaned up. But in this case, there are no traces of blood. It all means that strong chemicals were used to remove all traces of blood from the scene."
Imanuwela David is believed to be the mastermind behind the theft.
David was arrested in Namibia less than 24 hours after illegally entering the country by taking a canoe across the Orange River on June 12, 2020.
The Namibian-born man, who also held a South African identity, was running away because “things were getting hot”.
David was kept in a Namibian jail until November of the same year and missed his wedding to a South Africa woman which was planned for September.
It is believed that he bought properties in Cape Town and Rustenburg and luxury cars, registering them in someone’s name.
When he was arrested in Namibia, David was found in possession of a TAG Heuer watch worth N$28 000, a Rolex watch valued at N$280 000, and a gold chain valued at N$163 000 as well as 11 US$100 notes and four cellphones.
He allegedly bribed former National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Paulus Ngalangi and a police sergeant, Hendrik Nghede, to transport him to Windhoek after he had illegally entered Namibia. Ngalangi and Nghede were arrested and are expected to go on trial in August.
David pleaded guilty to two charges on November 13, 2020 – for entering Namibia illegally and for failing to declare goods he brought into the country – and was ordered to leave the country within 48 hours of his release.
Rhoode, in response to the public protector, also failed to disclose that he initially arrested David at a house in Milnerton, Cape Town, on March 31, 2020, after using a fictitious drug trafficking case to raid the property.
A state grabber, operated by two police officers who were made to drive from Pretoria to Cape Town, was also used to trace and ping David to the house in Milnerton.
Rhoode released David, who was tortured with his hands tied behind his back and interrogated, after he surrendered some of the money that was stolen at Phala Phala. During the interrogation, David was accused of stealing $20 million from the farm.
But Rhoode, in his response, denied “knowledge of any money or items derived from the proceeds of the money stolen from the farm being recovered”.
He also said he and Chauke, Ramaphosa’s envoy, were flown in a state helicopter to Windhoek, where Chauke had a meeting with Geingob the following morning without involving him.
The Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) deputy president in Namibia, Kalimbo Lipumbu, said yesterday the party would engage international organisations to ensure that Geingob was properly investigated for his role in the Phala Phala cover-up.
“The constitution in Namibia doesn’t allow for a sitting president to be investigated for any crime. Our president can today pick up a gun and shoot someone dead, he won’t face the rod of the law. In Namibia, our president is above the law, hence we want to engage international organisations to make sure that our president is properly investigated for his role in this Phala Phala scandal,” Lipumbu said.
The theft became public knowledge when former State Security director-general Arthur Fraser opened a criminal case against Ramaphosa at the Rosebank police station in Johannesburg.
Fraser, in his affidavit to the police, claimed that Rhoode instructed Ramaphosa to pay the five robbers R150 000 each not to reveal details of the robbery to the public