Phala Phala: Pro-Zuma organisation calls for citizen’s arrest, private prosecution of Ramaphosa

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Phala Phala: Pro-Zuma organisation calls for citizen's arrest, private prosecution of Ramaphosa
Phala Phala: Pro-Zuma organisation calls for citizen's arrest, private prosecution of Ramaphosa

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Making a citizen’s arrest on President Cyril Ramaphosa or forcing the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to pave the way for a private prosecution are some of the options being considered by opposition parties and civil society organisations.

This was amid claims that various law enforcement agencies and other authorities had failed to act regarding the alleged Phala Phala farm burglary.

Opposition parties and civil society organisations are now doubting that justice would emanate from probes into the allegations made against Ramaphosa by agencies headed by presidential appointees.

Democracy in Action chairperson Thabo Mtsweni on Wednesday told News24 that after penning two letters, the first on 6 June and another one on 21 June to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), the NPA and the national police commissioner questioning the seeming inaction despite evidence to the allegations against Ramaphosa being provided by former spy Arthur Fraser, his organisation was left with very few options.

A pro Jacob Zuma organisation, Democracy in Action in September 2021 paid the R3 000 bail for 36-year-old woman identified as Zamaswazi Zinhle Majozi and known as “Sphithiphithi Evaluator” on Twitter after she was arrested by the police for her alleged involvement in stoking violence during the riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Phala Phala: ATM wants IPID to investigate top cop, his predecessor for alleged involvement

Mtsweni said his organisation had written to the Human Rights Commission of SA asking it to also investigate matters pertaining to the abuse of human rights alleged when the suspected robbers were assaulted and illegally repatriated to South Africa for questioning.

Mtsweni said they were also looking at other possible legal avenues – one of which was making a citizen’s arrest as well as exploring the possibility of pursuing a private prosecution through compelling the DPP to withdraw its right to prosecute, allowing for any statutory body or an individual to prosecute these alleged offences.

“One of the things that we are seriously considering is a citizen’s arrest because we feel that this matter qualifies for one of those reason that are under that section under citizen’s arrest. We are also saying to the NPA that, if for some reason or the other, it can’t prosecute, then they should formally withdraw their right to prosecute and open the door for us to explore private prosecution,” said Mtsweni.

Section 42 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 allows for “any private person” to arrest, without a warrant, any other person in one of the following cases:

Given the tight security that always accompanied the president, it’s highly unlikely that such an occurrence could befall Ramaphosa.

Mtsweni reiterated that there was a lack of willingness to prosecute and that was leaving the hands of civil society and opposition parties tied.

“I mean, if we say all of us are equal before the eyes of the law, it means that every Tom and Jerry wherever you are, should be treated equally. So, if someone walks into a police station with evidence to say that so-and-so has done the following and then this is the evidence, it should not take more than 24 hours to charge that person.”

DA leader John Steenhuisen also bemoaned the inaction by law enforcement authorities, saying “the president himself did not have trust in the police services hence he did not report the alleged theft, why should we”.

Steenhuisen also revealed that the SA Revenue Services (SARS) had declined his request to probe the allegations.

“SARS have responded and said that they do not share taxpayer information and the like and while that is understandable, I really think that given the fragility of the tax system in SA, if SARS does not give some indication that they are dealing with this matter then I think it may trigger some form of tax revolt if people feel there are different rules for different people in the country.

“If you are the president, you can break all the rules, but if you are an ordinary citizen, if you get charged you get all the financial penalties,” said the DA leader.

In a letter seen by News24, responding to the request by the DA, SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter emphasised, “categorically that SARS pursues taxpayers, issues fines, and institutes criminal charges against taxpayers irrespective of their role and status for tax infringements not just minor infringements and the guarantee of confidentiality of taxpayer information was what taxpayers got in return” and therefore he was not in a position to disclose any information regarding Ramaphosa’s affairs.

Steenhuisen said the country’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) had more to answer for in relation to the alleged burglary.

“They [the FIC] have to answer on whether this big cash transaction was ever recorded in terms of the cash thresholding requirements or whether the alleged cash purchases in dollars made for the vehicles of the various perpetrators were ever picked up by FIC and reported.

“It certainly does not appear to have been the case otherwise we would have had this information in the public domain. So there are a number of agencies that have a bit of explaining to do; they have been napping and they need to get cracking ’cause the focus is now how they dealt with this situation,” said Steenhuisen.

Numerous opposition parties and civil society organisations had been attempting to get to the bottom of the matter.

The DA, on 4 June, called on SARS and South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to investigate the allegations.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the UDM approached the Speaker of Parliament requesting an official parliamentary probe into the matter.

Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, declined on the grounds that it did not constitute nor was it accompanied by a substantive motion envisaged in the rules for this particular probe to be initiated.

Despite being snubbed by Mapisa-Nqakula, on 14 June, the ATM filed another motion for the establishment of an inquiry into Ramaphosa.

The ATM on 20 June wrote to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) asking that it investigate newly appointed Police Commissioner, Fannie Masemola, and his predecessor, Khehla Sitole, for being “in the know about the Phala Phala burglary, theft and related matters”.

The party also requested that all active top cops including Masemola who were involved in the alleged off-the-books investigations be suspended pending IPID’s investigation.

The DA on Tuesday announced that it would be seeking the assistance of the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Speaking to News24 on Wednesday, Steenhuisen said the FBI were responsible for investigating the transportation or use of any amount over $10 000 outside the US, particularly transactions that are designed to conceal or hide the location, source and ownership of dollars and to avoid exchange controls.

“It is very clear that the amounts involved was over $10 000 and we would like… because the SARS were unable to let us know where those dollars came from and who brought them into SA, why they were here and how they were taken into Namibia and how they were repatriated as dollars back into SA. We suspect that they may be the proceeds of money laundering,” said the DA leader.

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