However, the case is not over for the president as the police investigation is still ongoing.
South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog has cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing in a preliminary report on a cover-up scandal that tarnished his reputation, according to local media reports.
The public protector said it has informed affected parties of the preliminary findings of its investigation into the theft of large amounts of cash from Ramaphosa’s luxury Phala Phala farm – something the president is accused of attempting to cover up.
Ramaphosa spokesman Vincent Magwenya said on Saturday that the president has received the report, details of which have been leaked to local media.
“As stated before, we reiterate that the president has not participated in any wrongdoing nor has he breached the oath of his office,” Magwenya said, according to South African news outlet News24. “Instead, the president was the victim of a crime which he duly reported to the relevant authorities.”
The scandal, which erupted in June, involved about $500,000 in cash that Ramaphosa acknowledged was stolen from under the couch cushions on his ranch.
The president, who said the money was payment for buffalo bought by a Sudanese businessman, was accused of failing to report the matter to police, abusing his powers and exposing himself to a conflict of interest over the affair.
The report exonerates him, but found the head of the presidential protection unit to whom Ramaphosa reported the crime acted improperly, investigating the case directly instead of reporting it to the police, according to extracts published by several media outlets.
The findings, which the left-wing opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters described as “nonsensical”, will bring some peace to Ramaphosa, who has been dogged by the allegations for months.
The scandal nearly cost him his job in December when he narrowly escaped a parliamentary vote that could have launched proceedings to remove him from office and jeopardized his chances of a second term after next year’s election.
Still, it won’t be the end of the matter for the president.
A police investigation is still ongoing, with the head of an elite unit saying earlier this week that detectives have collected more than 120 statements as part of their investigation into the affair.