AN independent panel’s report into the Phala Phala theft has given further details on how four of the five Namibian suspects, who allegedly stole millions from South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, were tracked down to a house in Cape Town where they were allegedly handcuffed and interrogated.
Erkki Shikongo, Imanuwela David, Petrus Muhekeni, Urbanus Shaumbwako, and Petrus Afrikaner were named by ex-South African spy boss Arthur Fraser as the suspected perpetrators of the heist. However, they have never been formally charged with the theft that took place at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm.
It is unclear which four were in the Cape Town house when it was raided.
The panel’s report, released yesterday detailed how the South African police, allegedly acting under the instruction of Ramaphosa’s head of protection unit Wally Rhoode, raided a house in Cape Town where the Namibians stayed, under the pretext of looking for drugs.
According to the report, Rhoode says he was in Cape Town on or about 10 or 11 March 2020 when he received a call from a member of the Presidential Protection Service, a sergeant Rekhoto, informing him that he had found out from certain sources that the perpetrators of the Phala Phala theft had bought new cars at a Cape Town car dealership.
“I viewed this information worth assessing as my role was to determine whether the perpetrators or their actions represented a threat to the safety and security of the president and his family,” Rhoode was quoted as saying in the report.
Shortly after receiving this telephone call, Rhoode says Rekhoto picked him up at his office and they “drove to Barons and spoke to the manager who confirmed that on 14 February 2020, a Mr [Petrus] Mukekeni had purchased a 2019 Ford Ranger and he supplied further details in relation to the purchase of the vehicle”.
According to the report, sergeant Rekhoto compiled a report of the information, which was handed over to deputy commissioner lieutenant general Sindile Mfazi.
However, according to former South African spy boss Arthur Fraser, who lifted the lid on the robbery, Rhoode travelled to Cape Town after the domestic worker he had interrogated at the farm revealed that the individuals who had broken into the farm had returned to Cape Town.
The domestic worker is also a Namibian national.
Rhoode’s team then allegedly contacted individuals within the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Cape Town and “falsely claimed that they had information on individuals who were involved in drug smuggling”.
It is alleged that using this fictitious drug smuggling claim, Rhoode’s informal investigation team then provided the details of some of the suspects involved in the Phala Phala theft to the SAPS detective services to track the individuals concerned.
“As a result of this, the suspects were traced to a house in Milnerton, Cape Town.”
It was also alleged by Fraser that Rhoode had attached photographs of “four males lying handcuffed on the floor”. A list of telephone numbers, extracted from the devices are alleged to have been provided to his team.
All the individuals arrested and interrogated happen to be suspects in the theft of foreign currency, Fraser was quoted as saying in the independent panel’s report.