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WINDHOEK, Namibia — Namibian investigators have been scorching at the path of the suspected burglars. After receiving a tip a couple of sensational heist — the robbery of money from a farm belonging to President Cyril Ramaphosa of neighboring South Africa — they’d traced massive cash transfers that the suspects comprised of South African to Namibian financial institution accounts.

All that was once left to make a case in opposition to the suspects was once to hyperlink the cash to the housebreaking.

But if justice ministry officers in Namibia reached out to their opposite numbers in South Africa for affirmation, they are saying they were given an ordinary reaction that killed their case: silence.

Now, two years later, that silence is elevating new questions on whether or not Mr. Ramaphosa was once making an attempt to cover the housebreaking from public view and mobilizing the federal government equipment to assist him accomplish that.

The housebreaking of the president’s farm in South Africa, 650 miles from the border with Namibia, happened in February 2020 however best turned into well known this month. A political foe of the president leveled bombshell allegations that Mr. Ramaphosa had between $4 million and $8 million in U.S. foreign money stolen from his belongings, after which coated up the robbery to keep away from scrutiny over having massive sums of money tucked away.

The cash were hidden in furnishings in a space on the president’s Phala Phala sport farm, in keeping with the political foe, Arthur Fraser, the previous head of state safety in South Africa, who made his allegations in a felony criticism in opposition to Mr. Ramaphosa. The president by no means reported the crime to the police, Mr. Fraser mentioned, however depended on his non-public coverage unit to habits an unlawful, off-the-books investigation.

The president has since admitted that his farm was once burgled, however has denied any wrongdoing. The cash stolen was once some distance not up to was once claimed, he has mentioned, including that the money got here from the criminal sale of uncommon sport bred at the farm. A spokesman for Mr. Ramaphosa declined to remark for this text.

Because the president makes an attempt to forge forward along with his common schedule — his farm hosted a sport public sale on Saturday — he faces a troublesome street forward. The Hawks, one of the crucial country’s elite investigative gadgets, are investigating him. Even Mr. Ramaphosa’s allies concern about doable felony fees related to allegations that he concealed massive sums of foreign exchange — from cash laundering to breaking tax or foreign currency echange regulations.

Mr. Ramaphosa, within the thick of a fight this 12 months to be re-elected because the chief of his birthday party, the African Nationwide Congress, has remained in large part silent.

Even the executive of Phala Phala, Hendrik von Wielligh, conceded in a temporary phone interview that it was once ordinary to stash cash from sport gross sales on the space. Requested what in most cases came about with the proceeds, he mentioned curtly, “In most cases to the financial institution.” Mr. von Wielligh declined to speak about the theft, announcing that “the folks that investigated” had warned him to not communicate to the clicking as a result of it could complicate the investigation, and perhaps scare off witnesses.

Mr. Fraser, who himself is going through allegations of corruption all through his tenure as head of state safety, is an in depth best friend of the previous president Mr. Ramaphosa driven out, Jacob Zuma. Mr. Zuma’s allies had been in quest of to discredit Mr. Ramaphosa in anyway they may be able to as they struggle his re-election bid.

The criticism filed by way of Mr. Fraser resurrected what differently was once a apparently forgotten case. But it surely was once person who Namibian government took nice passion in two years in the past.

In interviews performed in 2020, a couple of months after the housebreaking, two Namibian law enforcement officials and two senior executive officers mentioned that informants had alerted the police that males who burgled Mr. Ramaphosa’s farm had fled to Namibia. The officials and officers asked anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to speak about the case.

A confidential investigative file written by way of a Namibian police reputable in June 2020 main points allegations that U.S. bucks hidden within a settee at Mr. Ramaphosa’s farm have been stolen by way of a person in Namibian custody on unrelated fees. That file, which not too long ago leaked on-line, additionally mentioned that officers from South Africa and Namibia had mentioned the housebreaking, regardless that it sort of feels the South African government ultimately stopped cooperating when Namibian legislation enforcement asked reputable help. There additionally have been discussions “allegedly ongoing between the nations’ two presidents,” the file mentioned.

Hage Geingob, Namibia’s president, has denied doing any favors for Mr. Ramaphosa in regards to the housebreaking. And Namibian police officers insist that they did the entirety by way of the ebook.

“It’s not in my tradition to cover a criminal offense,” Martha Imalwa, Namibia’s prosecutor normal, who tried to get knowledge at the housebreaking suspects from South African government, mentioned in an interview. “We will’t pressure some other jurisdiction to help.”

Round April 2020, weeks after the burglars have been mentioned to have made off with the money, Namibian police stopped a Ford Ranger pickup truck within the Namibian capital, Windhoek. Legal informants in Namibia had advised the police that the occupants of the automobile were concerned with a robbery at Mr. Ramaphosa’s farm, in keeping with the 2 law enforcement officials and one of the crucial senior executive officers.

A type of suspects, Erkki Shikongo, mentioned in an interview that the police held him and his cousin on the police station whilst they grew to become the automobile within out. They used gear to disassemble portions of the truck to look it, he mentioned.

“They only mentioned, ‘We’re looking for one thing,’” Mr. Shikongo recalled. When he requested what they have been looking for, they wouldn’t inform him, he mentioned.

The police discovered not anything and launched Mr. Shikongo with out fees.

Mr. Shikongo and his cousin, Petrus Muhekeni, have been some of the 5 housebreaking suspects who Mr. Fraser named in his criticism. However each Mr. Shikongo and Mr. Muhekeni denied any involvement within the housebreaking. They mentioned in separate interviews that they simply discovered about what had came about after information stories surfaced and so they have been inundated with calls from newshounds.

Whilst the government have flagged his money transfers, Mr. Shikongo mentioned his cash didn’t come from stealing from the president, however from purchasing and promoting gold all over southern Africa. Mr. Shikongo mentioned he would don’t have any downside going to court docket to end up his innocence.

“I’m now not frightened of anything else,” he mentioned. “I need to be sure that my identify should be cleared.”

The primary public whiff of the housebreaking at Mr. Ramaphosa’s farm began with an earthly crime: Imanuwela David, a Namibian-born guy who holds a South African passport, sneaked into Namibia in June 2020 by way of taking a canoe around the Orange River.

Mr. David’s arrest for illegally getting into the rustic temporarily turned into a sensational media tale. Main points emerged that he was once aided by way of a police officer and the executive govt of Namibia’s state-owned fishing corporate, which was once embroiled in a corruption scandal referred to as “Fishrot.” Hypothesis swirled that Mr. David can have been concerned with Fishrot.

The police mentioned he had introduced 11 notes of U.S. foreign money each and every price $100 into Namibia. He had a TAG Heuer and a Rolex watch, a gold chain and 4 cell phones. The police additionally mentioned on the time that Mr. David was once a fugitive in South Africa, connected to a housebreaking there. They gave few information about the case, however one file in The Namibian Solar valued the volume stolen at 65 million Namibian bucks — about $4 million U.S. — the same quantity Mr. Fraser discussed in his criticism in opposition to Mr. Ramaphosa this month.

Even supposing the Namibian police launched few main points publicly on the time, the confidential investigative file means that they are going to have identified greater than they shared.

Produced on June 21, 2020, 8 days after Mr. David’s arrest, the file mentioned there was once knowledge indicating that he was once concerned with “a burglary and robbery” at a farm belonging to Mr. Ramaphosa. (The file, on the other hand, names a special farm owned by way of the president, now not the one who was once robbed.)

The memo gave different main points that may additionally floor in Mr. Fraser’s criticism two years later — {that a} girl on the belongings found out the cash and advised others about it; that the cash was once hidden in furnishings; that Mr. David was once a central participant within the housebreaking.

The confidential file was once created by way of Nelius Becker, the pinnacle of felony investigations for Namibia’s nationwide police on the time. Mr. Becker mentioned in a contemporary interview that he had shared it with two different senior officials and that it was once intended to stay confidential. He additionally mentioned that, to his wisdom, the Namibian police by no means tried to quash or duvet up any investigation.

However his file does describe a gathering between high-level government from Namibia and South Africa through which apparently that the South Africans tried to drive their neighbors. All over the assembly, which happened at a border house referred to as “no guy’s land,” a South African reputable showed that one thing had came about at the farm however that no case was once filed, in keeping with the memo. The reputable mentioned that Mr. David was once the mastermind at the back of the housebreaking.

“Because of the sensitivity of the topic and the envisaged fallout it is going to create in South Africa, they asked that the topic is treated with discretion,” Mr. Becker wrote within the file.

In a contemporary information unlock, Lt. Gen. Sebastian Ndeitunga, the pinnacle of the Namibian police, sought to mood any advice of impropriety. The assembly, on June 19, 2020, was once merely to “percentage operational knowledge” about Mr. David and other folks suspected of stealing cash in South Africa and fleeing to Namibia, Basic Ndeitunga mentioned.

Nonetheless, what spread out within the next weeks turns out to signify that Namibia was once a lot more zealous in its pursuit of Mr. David and the opposite suspects than the South African government.

Namibian investigators tracked the banking job of Mr. David, Mr. Shikongo and a 3rd guy, Petrus Afrikaner, over the process a number of months. They recorded 6.7 million Namibian bucks’ ($416,000) price of transactions, in keeping with one of the crucial senior executive officers.

Namibian prosecutors have been making an attempt to construct a money-laundering case in opposition to the boys. In order that they drafted a request for assist setting up the resources of the suspects’ price range and whether or not they have been derived from illegal actions, mentioned Yvonne Dausab, the Namibian justice minister, in a textual content message. On Aug. 14, 2020, the Namibia Top Fee in South Africa delivered the request to the South African Division of World Members of the family and Cooperation, to be forwarded to the Justice Division, Ms. Dausab mentioned. South African officers by no means spoke back, she mentioned.

Chrispin Phiri, a spokesman for South Africa’s justice ministry, mentioned in a remark on Tuesday that the company had no reputable report of a request from Namibian government in regards to the suspects within the farm theft.

With out that knowledge, the Namibian government may not freeze the belongings of the suspects or pursue a case in opposition to them.

Lynsey Chutel contributed reporting.



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