Namibia’s police chief Thursday denied helping cover up a cash heist at South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s luxury farmhouse.
In a scandal that’s equal parts bizarre and damaging, Ramaphosa is accused of covering up a 2020 burglary at his farm, where thieves allegedly ripped apart his furniture and made off with $4 million in cash hidden inside.
In South Africa, Ramaphosa is accused of hiding the break-in from police and tax authorities.
But in Namibia, police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga said in a statement that authorities had in 2020 frozen bank accounts, lodges, houses and vehicles allegedly bought with the stolen cash.
Alleged mastermind Imanuwela David apparently paddled his way by canoe into Namibia, where the head of a major fishing company and a police officer brought him in from the border, Ndeitunga said.
After South African authorities declined to confirm that a crime had actually been committed, Namibia released the seized property, he added.
“No response was received from South African authorities, resulting in the cancellation of the preservation order and release of assets,” Ndeitunga said.
The entire investigation wasn’t based on a formal request, but was launched after a police official from each country met in the no-man’s land along the border in 2020, he added.
Ndeitunga denied doing “dirty work for President Ramaphosa”.
“We refute allegations of torture or abduction of the suspect, Mr Imanuwela David,” he said.
“There is a joint investigation underway between the Namibian police force and the South African police service,” he added.
Namibian President Hage Geingob has also denied helping Ramaphosa abduct and torture a suspect connected to the burglary.
South Africa’s former intelligence boss Arthur Fraser has accused Ramaphosa of organising the kidnapping and questioning of the burglars, and then bribing them to keep quiet.
Ramaphosa has acknowledged the burglary but denies the alleged kidnapping and bribery, saying he reported the burglary to the police after he had learned of it.
For a man whose entire presidency is staked on cleaning up endemic corruption, the farm saga has raised questions about Ramaphosa’s own accountability.