Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to root out corruption.
Now, he could be forced to quit over claims that he covered up the theft of a huge amount of cash from his lucrative game farm, which – by his own admission – had been stuffed in a leather sofa.
South Africa’s President is being probed in an ongoing scandal linked to the theft of more than $500,000 in cash from his private game farm in 2020.
The cash was stuffed inside a leather sofa according to the panel investigation.
The panel, led by a former chief justice, found that the crime was not reported to the police and that there was a “deliberate decision to keep the investigation secret.”
Former South African spy chief Arthur Fraser alleged the theft occurred with the collusion of a domestic worker and claimed that the theft was concealed from police and the revenue service. Fraser, whose allegations were detailed in a report into the investigation, said Ramaphosa paid the culprits for their silence.
Ramaphosa has maintained that the cash was from the sale of buffalo at his Phala Phala farm to a Sudanese businessman and that the theft was reported to the head of presidential security.
The president also disputes claims by Fraser that the amount hidden at his farm was more than $4 million.
“Some are casting aspersions about me and money. I want to assure you that all this was money from proceeds from selling animals. I have never stolen money from anywhere. Be it from our taxpayers, be it from anyone. I have never done so. And will never do so,” he said while addressing members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in June this year.
He is a well-known owner and trader of rare buffalo, cattle, and other wildlife, and has become a multi-millionaire through his private buffalo farm.
The panel found that Ramaphosa’s submitted explanations were not yet sufficient and that he could have violated the constitution and his oath of office by having a second income as president.
The ANC’s top leaders are set to meet later Thursday to discuss the report and while the party does have a “step-aside” rule for misconduct, the ANC’s national spokesman Pule Mabe told local television that it only applied to those that are “criminally charged.”