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South African president to testify over farm theft scandal

Embroiled in a burglary scandal, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will appear before his party's Integrity Commission, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said Monday.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 7, 2021 South African President Cyril Ramaphosa waves as he is welcomed by members of the public upon arrival to the island of Goree, off the coast of Dakar, during Ramaphosa’s official visit to Senegal, as part of a tour of West Africa. – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tested positive for Covid-19 on December 12, 2021, and is receiving treatment for mild symptoms, the presidency said in a statement. Ramaphosa, who is fully vaccinated, began feeling unwell after leaving a state memorial service for former deputy president F W de Klerk in Cape Town earlier in the day but was in good spirits and being monitored by doctors, it said. (Photo by SEYLLOU / AFP)

Embroiled in a burglary scandal, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will appear before his party’s Integrity Commission, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said Monday.

The ANC “welcomed and commended the decision by the president to voluntarily present himself to the ANC Integrity Commission”, it said in a statement, without specifying a date.

Dogged by political infighting, the ANC is trying to overhaul itself by stamping out corruption, with members facing criminal proceedings being systematically suspended.

The party is expected to nominate its candidate for the 2024 national election in the next few months.

Since last week, Ramaphosa, 69, has been weakened by accusations that he was complicit in buying the silence of burglars who stumbled on large sums of money at one of his properties.

The case began in February 2020, according to the complaint filed Wednesday at a Johannesburg police station by former South African intelligence chief Arthur Fraser.

Robbers allegedly broke into Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in the northeast of the country where they found $4 million in cash hidden in furniture.

Ramaphosa himself has disputed the sum of money in question, but accepted that he buys and sells animals “sometimes through cash sometimes through transfers”.

“I’ve never stolen money from anywhere and I will never do so. I have never stolen from taxpayers,” Ramaphosa added.

The case accuses Ramaphosa of concealing the theft from police and the tax authorities.

It sensationally alleges that the president then “paid” the burglars “for their silence”.

Fraser, who said he provided police with “photos, bank accounts, names and videos”, accused Ramaphosa of obstruction of justice and organising for the suspects to be kidnapped, interrogated on his property and paid off.

In the past, members of the ANC have been removed from office following the Integrity Commission’s recommendations.

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