Siblings accused of Phala Phala theft tell court they are not flight risks
Froliana and Ndilishano Joseph, and Imanuwela David appeared in the Bela-Bela magistrates court on Friday
The two siblings arrested in connection with the robbery at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala Wildlife reserve will have to wait another week to find out whether they will be granted bail.
Froliana and Ndilishano Joseph will return to court on November 17 to learn their fate in connection with the robbery that allegedly netted them $580,000 (R10.87m) on February 9 2020.
The pair, along with Imanuwela David, appeared in the Bela-Bela magistrates court on Friday where they faced a raft of robbery and theft charges.
David also faces an additional charge of money laundering.
During their bail application, the siblings told the court through their lawyer, Ramoloko Mike Mokgobu, they handed themselves over to the police at Bela-Bela police station after the investigating officer requested them to do so.
In their affidavits, the pair indicated they were not flight risks as they were SA nationals and had no prior convictions.
Froliana told the court she lost her job as a casual worker at the farm after news of the incident came to light in 2022.
In his affidavit, Ndilishano told the court he has held jobs as a driver at various companies since 2018 and was currently employed in Mthatha.
Prosecutor advocate Nkhetheni Munyai told the court the state was not opposed to bail as it was aware of the pair's whereabouts. Munyai asked the court to set bail at R5,000 for Floriana and R10,000 for Ndilishano.
Magistrate Predeshni Poonan extended her J7 order allowing Froliana to breastfeed her child while in custody until judgment on the siblings’ bail application on November 17.
The theft came to light in June 2022 when former director-general at the State Security Agency Arthur Fraser opened a case of kidnapping and money laundering against President Cyril Ramaphosa, Presidential Protection Services head Maj-Gen Wally Rhoode and Crime Intelligence members for allegedly concealing the break-in.
Ramaphosa said the cash was paid to his former farm manager, Sylvester Ndlovu, by Sudanese businessperson Hazim Mustafa on Christmas Day in 2019, as he wanted to purchase a herd of buffalo.
Ramaphosa allegedly failed to report the burglary to the police but chose to report it to Rhoode instead. It was further alleged Ramaphosa used the VIP presidential protection team to pursue the people he believed had stolen their money and their pursuit led them to Namibia.
Amid the controversy, several political parties and nongovernmental organisations called for the president's impeachment.
In August, Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago defended the bank’s investigation into the Phala Phala theft, saying its investigation found the cash handed to a lodge manager in 2020 was a “security deposit” and not a final payment.
“The foreign currency was stolen before the conditions precedent to the sale transaction could be fulfilled,” he said.
The public protector’s office also cleared Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing.
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