South Africa

Why Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala dollars were stuffed in a sofa

Acting lodge manager at President Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala Wildlife, Dumisani Sylvester Ndlovu, moved $580,000 from the sale of buffalo to a sofa from the farm’s safe “for fear of some being stolen”. 

This was revealed in the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) report into the alleged contravention of exchange control regulations by Ramaphosa’s farm in Limpopo. 

The report,which found that Ramaphosa had not contravened regulations, was previously confidential but has been released by the SARB in response to a legal challenge by the Democratic Alliance, which claims Ramaphosa broke the exchange regulations. 

According to the report, the buyer of the buffalo, Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa, visited the farm in December 2019, where he spoke to acting lodge manager Dumisani Sylvester Ndlovu. 

“After being shown a specific ‘parcel’ of animals in Camp 6, Mr Hazim selected 20 animals which he was interested in. Mr Hazim handed USD580,000 in cash to Mr Ndlovu as payment for the buffaloes he had selected,” stated the report.

Ramaphosa was not at the farm when the money was handed over to Ndlovu. He was only informed of the transaction when he arrived at Phala Phala the next day. 

The President instructed that the money be kept at the farm until his next visit, when he would brief the general manager of the farm on the processing of the transaction. 

According to the report, on or about 30 December 2019, Ndlovu decided to move the foreign currency from the safe to a bedroom in the President’s house on the Phala Phala farm and hid it under the cushions of a sofa.

This is a safe that many employees at the game farm reportedly had access to and was used for general storage purposes at Phala Phala.

Ndlovu did this because he considered the sofa a safer place and for fear of the money being stolen while he was on leave.

On 10 February 2020, it was discovered that the President’s house had been broken into and the $580,000 had been stolen.

Subsequently, the buffalo were never delivered to Hazim Mustafa due to the theft of the cash and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite the US dollars being undeclared at Phala Phala for a period exceeding 30 days, the Reserve Bank determined that Rampahosa did not contravene exchange control regulations as the transaction was imperfect. 

According to the report, while the money was handed over to Ndlovu in December 2019, the conclusion of the sale was subject to certain conditions being met. 

These included state veterinary examinations, blood tests for the animals and permits for their transportation.

As these conditions were never met, there was no “perfected transaction” between Mustafa and Phala Phala. 

While the game ranching operation was in possession of the money, it had no legal entitlement to the funds due to unfulfilled conditions precedent to the sale.

“[The Financial Surveillance Department], on the facts available to it, cannot conclude that there was a contravention of Exchange Control Regulation 6(1) by either the President or Ntaba Nyoni Estates CC (Phala Phala),” concluded the report.


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