Namibia trip in 2020 unrelated to Phala Phala saga: Public Protector

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The Office of the Public Protector says there is no link between a trip taken by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special advisor, Bhejani Chauke and his head of protection, Major General Wally Rhoode to Namibia in June 2020 and the break-in at the President’s Phala Phala farm.

This was among the findings of an investigation that has since cleared the President of any wrongdoing for failing to report the matter to the police. It instead pointed a finger at Rhoode for acting improperly by conducting the investigation himself.

It was alleged that Rhoode undertook a trip to Namibia with Chauke in June 2020, four months after the break-in to further investigate the matter. This was after one of the suspects was allegedly arrested in that country.

But Acting Executive Manager for Investigation, Vusi Dlamini says their investigations found the trip was solely for matters on African security.

“He was also corroborated by one Mr. TT from the state security who filed a confirmatory affidavit to confirm that indeed he was also aware of that trip as communicated to him by Mr. Chauke and it was a security-related trip which Mr. Chauke had to take on his capacity as the special adviser to the president and presidential envoy to Africa. We could not prove further as to the nature of security that was involved as that would have been a confidential issue.”

Acting Public Protector, Kholeka Gcaleka has recommended that the National Police Commissioner take action against Rhoode within the next 60 days for maladministration and improper conduct. This relates to Rhoode and Sergeant Hlulani Rikhotso’s role in investigating the matter without a registered case with the police.

Rhoode claimed he reported the incident to General Sindile Mfazi who was not his commanding officer. But Gcaleka says they could not find evidence of him reporting to the now-deceased Mfazi and that appropriate remedial action is taken to redress the conduct of the two police officers.

“The National Commissioner of the SAPS must within (60) sixty calendar days from the date of receipt of this report ensure that appropriate action is initiated against Gen. Rhoode and Sgt Rikhotso for  contraventions of the SAPS prescripts as highlighted in this report, in line with the provisions of section 40 of the SAPS Act and Regulation 6 of the SAPS Discipline Regulations, 2016,” says Gcaleka.