South African president faces independent investigation into burglary case

The South African parliament has set up an independent commission to investigate a dark case of burglary which has embarrassed President Cyril Ramaphosa for several months, the National Assembly announced on Wednesday evening.

The independent commission, made up of former Constitutional Court President Sandile Ngcobo, a former judge and university professor, has 30 days to issue its findings, Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in a statement. .

The results of the inquiry could lead to a possible vote in parliament to impeach Ramaphosa.

In South Africa, impeachment of the head of state is subject to a two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly. The historic ruling party led by Cyril Ramaphosa, the African National Congress (ANC), holds more than two-thirds of the seats.

Cyril Ramaphosa, 69, is accused of concealing from police and the tax authorities a 2020 burglary at one of his properties in which large sums of cash were found concealed in furniture.

An investigation was opened after a complaint was filed in June by former South African intelligence chief Arthur Fraser. According to Fraser, burglars broke into a farm belonging to the president in Phala Phala, in the northeast of the country.

The complaint accuses Mr Ramaphosa of concealing the burglary from the police and the money found there from the taxman, as well as of having organized the kidnapping and interrogation of the thieves, then of having bribed them so that they are silent.

Mr Ramaphosa, who denounced a political maneuver, denies the allegations of kidnapping and corruption and maintains that the money came from the sale of cattle.

He suspended the country’s main anti-corruption watchdog, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, after a public investigation was opened against him in June.

The suspension was deemed “inappropriate” and was overturned by a court last week.

The burglary case throws the president into turmoil months before the ANC decides whether or not to field him as a candidate for a second term in the 2024 presidential elections.

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