Zuma link to man who drove Phala Phala ‘mastermind’ to border

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Zuma link to man who drove Phala Phala 'mastermind' to border
Zuma link to man who drove Phala Phala 'mastermind' to border

Africa-Press – Namibia. ONE of the men who helped alleged Phala Phala burglary mastermind Imanuwela David get to the Namibian border four months after the theft of millions stashed at South African president Cyril Ramphosa’s farm has a surprising connection to that country’s former head of state, Jacob Zuma.

According to a Namibian police report seen by amaBhungane, when David was questioned by the Namibian Police, he claimed to have paid a certain ‘Papa J’ R50 000 “to arrange people in Namibia and RSA to smuggle him into Namibia”.

AmaBhungane has established the identity of Papa J, whose real name is Mfundo Jele, as well as one of the individuals in the car that took David to the border – a man named Prince Mazibuko.

According to the report, signed by the former head of the Namibian Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), Nelius Becker, on 21 June 2020, David told Namibian authorities that he approached Jele, who allegedly contacted an unnamed Zambian, who in turn roped in then acting chief executive officer of the Namibian state-owned fisheries company Fishcor, Paulus Ngalangi.

Ngalangi allegedly collected David from Noordoewer on the Namibian side of the border after David illegally crossed the Orange River by canoe.

The report suggests that Namibian intelligence acted quickly after picking up information about David being “smuggled” into the country.

He was swiftly arrested after police officer sergeant Hendrik Nghede admitted to accompanying Ngalangi to collect David from Noordoewer.

He told amaBhungane that in June 2020 he received a call from a man from whom he bought a lot of vehicles in 2018.

This man, known only as Saqeeb, owned a dealership in Benoni and they had formed a friendly relationship.

The car dealer told Jele that a friend of his, called Imanuwela David, needed a driver to take him to an urgent meeting at Vioolsdrift at the border with Namibia.

He also said he met Zuma through a former employee who was indirectly related to the former president via the Mzobe family.

According to Jele, he would visit Zuma and have friendly conversations about the history of the country and the Zulu people, but had no political or business relationship with him.

He said he took pictures with Zuma because he admired him.

Jele said he didn’t know anything about the break-in at president Ramaphosa’s home and was adamant that if investigators were to look at his phone and bank records his story would be corroborated.

In response to questions from amaBhungane seeking clarity on the relationship between Zuma and Jele, Zuma’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, responded with a series of laughing emojis, followed by “#PhalaPhalaFarmGate”.

“You guys are desperate to change the narrative,” he said, adding this was his official response.

“You can quote me.”

Asked about pictures of cash on his Instagram account posted in September 2020, Jele said they were actually taken in 2018, but that that was not his money.

He claimed that in 2018 Saqeeb had completed the sale of a vehicle and the client paid him in cash.

“He came to my place with someone else to wait for another group of individuals to accompany him because he did not want to travel with that much money alone,” he told amaBhungane.

“I was young and stupid, so I took photos and posted them. There are witnesses who can confirm this, but that was not money from the proceeds of crime and it wasn’t mine.”

*This is a shortened, edited version of an article that appeared on the Daily Maverick’s website. The AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism is an independent non-profit organisation. They co-publish investigations, which are free to access, to news sites like Daily Maverick.

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