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South Africa's president faces independent enquiry into burglary case

South Africa's president faces independent enquiry into burglary case
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address at...   -  
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Nic Bothma/AP

South Africa

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

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

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

In South Africa, the 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 the police and tax authorities a 2020 burglary at one of his properties in which large sums of cash were found hidden in furniture.

An investigation was launched after a complaint was made in June by former South African intelligence chief Arthur Fraser. According to Fraser, burglars broke into a farm owned by the president in Phala Phala, in the north-east of the country.

The complaint accuses Mr Ramaphosa of concealing the burglary from the police and the money found there from the tax authorities, as well as organising the abduction and interrogation of the thieves and then bribing them to keep quiet.

Mr Ramaphosa, who has denounced a political manoeuvre, denies the allegations of kidnapping and bribery and maintains that the money came from the sale of livestock.

He suspended the country's top anti-corruption watchdog, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, after a public enquiry was launched against him in June.

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

The burglary case puts the president in turmoil months before the ANC decides whether to present him as a candidate for a second term in the 2024 presidential elections.

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