South African president confirms robbery, denies kidnapping suspects
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Thursday confirmed a robbery at one of his properties, but denied claims levelled by a former spy chief that he had kidnapped and bribed the thieves.
Former intelligence boss Arthur Fraser late Wednesday accused the president of organising the kidnapping, questioning and bribery of thieves who stole $4 million from his farm north of Johannesburg.
“President Ramaphosa is clear that there is no basis for the claims of criminal conduct that have been made against him,” his office said in a statement.
But the presidency confirmed that a robbery took place around February 9, 2020, in which money from a wildlife sale was stolen. At the time, Ramaphosa was attending an African Union summit in Ethiopia.
“On being advised of the robbery, President Ramaphosa reported the incident to the head of the Presidential Protection Unit of the South African Police Service for investigation,” the statement said.
After a career in intelligence, Fraser became chief of the country’s prisons.
It was he who in September ordered the release on medical parole of former head of state Jacob Zuma, just two months into a 15-month jail sentence for contempt following his refusal to testify in a probe into financial sleaze under his presidency.
Zuma was forced to resign in 2018 after a series of corruption scandals.
He was succeeded by his then deputy, Ramaphosa, who came into office pledging to fight graft.
But he too has been called in for questioning in the investigation into alleged looting from state coffers during the Zuma era.