S.Africa's Ramaphosa 'ready' to explain farm theft after probes end

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured July 2022) said he was cooperating with authorities, but declined to give a detailed answer

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday he was “ready” to give an explanation and be held accountable over allegations he concealed a multi-million-dollar cash heist at his luxury farmhouse, but only after probes concluded.

Responding to parliament questions on the case, Ramaphosa said he was cooperating with authorities, but declined to give a detailed answer.

“The most appropriate response from my side is for the law to take its own course,” Ramaphosa told a fiery parliament session via video link, with many opposition lawmakers appearing unhappy with his answer.

“I stand ready to cooperate and also to give an explanation,” he said.

As for being questioned by parliament, “I stand ready to cooperate with that process as well, and will be ready to be fully accountable.”

But, he added, he had been advised to wait until the investigators had finished their work.

“I have been counselled… that it is best to address this matter when those processes have been done,” he said.

A scandal erupted in June after former national spy boss Arthur Fraser filed a police complaint, alleging that robbers broke into Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in the northeast of the country, where they found and stole $4 million in cash hidden in furniture. 

Fraser alleged that Ramaphosa hid the robbery from police and the tax authorities, and instead organised the kidnapping and questioning of the robbers, and then bribed them into silence.

The president has acknowledged a burglary but denies the accusations of kidnapping and bribery, saying he reported the break-in to the police. 

He has also disputed the amount of money involved, and said the cash came from legitimate sales of game from his animal-breeding farm.

South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog and the police have opened probes.

The case has piled pressure on the president amid heightened tensions within the ruling African National Congress party.