Sudanese Businessman Defends Rampahosa Buffalo Purchase

A Sudanese businessman linked to a scandal facing South Africa’s President Cyril Rampahosa has broken his silence for the first time, Sky News reports.

At the centre of the scandal is the alleged theft of $580,000 (£476,000) in cash from the president’s farm, Phala Phala, which had been handed over to pay for livestock.

The businessman mentioned in an experts’ report as having handed over the money is Hazim Mustafa. Some doubt was cast over whether the purchase was made, but he has now told Sky News that he paid sum in cash to buy 20 buffaloes in 2019, but that he did not know that they belonged to Mr Rampahosa.

“I wasn’t aware it belonged to the president. I dealt with a broker – the one working on Phala Phala farm,” Mr Mustafa is quoted as saying.

The panel that looked into the events surrounding the theft of the money from the sale concluded that the president had a case to answer.

The panel said there was “substantial doubt” that this sale of the animals took place, noting that neither the lodge manager nor the Sudanese national had confirmed this is what happened.

“We think that the president has a case to answer on the origin of the foreign currency that was stolen, as well as the underlying transaction for it,” the panel added.

The ruling African National Congress has so far rallied behind Mr Ramaphosa and urged him to fight against calls for him to resign.

Mr Mustafa told Sky News that the animals remained at Mr Rampahosa’s farm after the sale because the Covid pandemic had made it impossible to transport them out of the country.

“There was delay after delay after delay… it took too long, so I didn’t get my money back but there is an understanding that I will be refunded,” Mr Mustafa added.

The Dubai-based businessman said he carried more than half a million dollars in cash through the airport when he arrived in South Africa.

“I declared it, in Johannesburg – yes, O.R Tambo airport,” he told Sky News.