South Africa

Defence unhappy as Phala Phala theft case postponed


The defence has complained about the delays in the Phala Phala game farm theft saga as the case was postponed to April.

The alleged mastermind behind the burglary at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s farm in Limpopo, Imanuwela David and his two co-accused, siblings Froliana and David Ndilinasho Joseph, briefly appeared in the Bela Bela Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

The three suspects are facing charges of housebreaking, theft and conspiracy to commit housebreaking with intent to steal.

They allegedly stole $580 000 at the president’s farm in February 2020.

Postponement

During the proceedings on Friday, state prosecutor Nkhetheni Munyai asked for a postponement to finalise outstanding investigations, much to the displeasure of the defence.

The state is seeking to obtain additional information from cellphone service providers as well as video footage, and financial statements.

The defence asked that the postponement be marked final for the purpose of investigations.

“It’s been three months that the accused number one has been appearing in court and he has also been denied bail so he is sitting in custody whereby the state now requests a further [postponement] for information that they rely on third parties.

“They requested this date with a promise that they will have enough time to get the evidence that is required,” defence attorney, Koena Matlala told the court.

ALSO READ: Cellphone tech used to link Imanuwela David to Phala Phala burglary, court hears

However, Munyai rejected the defence’s submissions.

“I think it would not be appropriate [at this stage]. This is just a second remand we have requested for further investigations,” the prosecutor said.

“To assume that it takes two or three months to get information from third parties, is neither here or there because the process that is involved is complex. I submit that it is premature to postpone this matter finally for further investigations until the next remand date,” he continued.

The prosecutor proposed the date of 26 April, which was granted by Magistrate Predeshni Poonan.

“Given the complexity of the matter, the court is not going to mark this remand final for further investigations,” Poonan ruled.

The court also heard on Friday that the state is planning to extradite additional suspects linked to the Phala Phala saga.

The two suspects are believed to be in Namibia.

Watch the proceedings below:

Bail

The Joseph siblings were released on bail in November last year.

The state did not oppose bail for the duo, and it was set at R5 000 for Froliana and R10 000 for her brother.

David, however, was denied bail the following month, after the court ruled that there was a strong possibility that the suspect may tamper with evidence or interfere with the investigation should he be released.

The defence has already informed the court that David intends to plead not guilty in the trial.

READ MORE: Alleged Phala Phala mastermind intends to plead not guilty

The Phala Phala theft came to light when former State Security Agency (SSA) boss, Arthur Fraser, opened a case of kidnapping and money laundering against Ramaphosa, the head of the presidential protection services, Wally Rhoode in June 2022.

Fraser accused Rhoode and the president’s advisor, Bejani Chauke, of attempting to conceal the incident.

They were accused of concealing the robbery.

Among the allegations was that Ramaphosa paid off suspects who stole the money that was stashed in the furniture on the farmhouse, in exchange for their silence.