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Faith Nyasuguta 

Ex-South African spy chief has accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of kidnapping and bribery in a case currently registered with the police.

According to Arthur Fraser, the case related to the alleged attempted theft of $4m in 2020 at one of the president’s properties and the alleged efforts to conceal what happened.

President Ramaphosa said “there is no basis for the claims of criminal conduct”.

For some, Fraser is seen as an ally of former President Jacob Zuma.

For others, the allegations could be tied to disagreements within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) ahead of a leadership race in December.

The police have surely confirmed that a case has been registered with them and that “due processes will follow”, including an initial investigation.

Fraser, who ran the nation’s State Security Agency (SSA) between 2016 and 2018, has said he has handed photographs, bank account details and video footage over to the police.

Via a statement, he alleged that criminals broke into a farm in Limpopo province in February 2020 to steal more than $4m. They were then detained and interrogated on the property and paid to keep quiet about what had happened, the statement alleges.

In response, Ramaphosa’s office confirmed that there was a robbery at his farm in Limpopo “in which proceeds from the sale of game were stolen”.

The president, who was abroad at the time, reported the incident to the police’s presidential protection unit, the statement from his office said.

He “stands ready to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation of these matters”, it added.

After running the SSA, Fraser moved on to head the country’s prison service. Last September, he was responsible for ordering Zuma’s release on medical parole nearly two months into his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court – a decision which was criticised by many South Africans.

Former national commissioner of correctional service Arthur Fraser /Gallo Images/

The ex-spy has also been accused of enabling graft while he was running the SSA by witnesses at an inquiry into corruption in the country during the Zuma presidency known as the Zondo commission. Fraser has accused the witnesses of lying about him.

Ramaphosa became president in February 2018 after Zuma resigned in the face of numerous corruption allegations, which he denied. The ANC remains divided between supporters of the two men. It is due to choose later this year who will be its presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.

The president has made combating corruption a priority of his government. But his commitment to this has been questioned as the misuse of state funds, especially over money earmarked for fighting Covid-19, has continued during his presidency.

Ahead of becoming deputy president in 2014, Ramaphosa was a prominent businessman with stakes in mining, telecoms, media, beverage and fast food companies.

In 2014, he declared to parliament that he owned $5m in shares as well as 30 townhouses. But it is widely believed that his wealth is greater than that.

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Faith Nyasuguta

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