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South Africa’s president in break-in mystery

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (AFP) – South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is embroiled in a growing scandal centred on the theft of cash from his sprawling cattle farm worthy of a spy thriller that has highlighted the leader’s wealth.

Ramaphosa is accused of complicity in buying the silence of the burglars who were allegedly detained on his property, charges which he fiercely denies as he vies to stay on as ruling party leader.

The office of Ramaphosa, who is known affectionately as “the buffalo” for his collection of prize cattle, attempted to snuff out speculation and intrigue with a business-as-usual statement. “While there is much public interest and concern” the president remained “firmly focussed on the task of rebuilding the economy and the country”, the presidency said.

The scandal came to light after a criminal case was brought by the country’s former spymaster and ruling ANC member Arthur Fraser, now threatening to overshadow the president’s effort to remain party leader.

Ramaphosa will face party members at a conference in December during which he could be ousted from the ANC’s top job.

The 69-year-old party veteran who succeeded Jacob Zuma as president of both the party and South Africa has repeatedly insisted he was not involved in any criminal conduct.

The president, who has a considerable personal fortune, vowed to continue the fight against corruption, but pledged “once again” to cooperate fully with any investigation.

The presidency stressed it would “not be able” to go into details of the case, leaving the police and the judiciary to their work.

The saga began in February 2020, according to the complaint filed yesterday at a Johannesburg police station by Fraser.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO: AFP