President Cyril Ramaphosa has rejected as "patently false", allegations that he had profited from the breeding and selling of animals to be shot and killed on his Phala Phala wildlife breeding operation.
The allegations were published by the non-profit American animal rights organisation, The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The group alleges that a secret investigation had revealed that Ramaphosa also owned a stake in a hunting firm, Tsala Hunting Safaris.
PETA accuses Ramaphosa and his employees of having "gone to great lengths to conceal his trophy hunting from the party," according to one report.
Peta’s recordings of Ramaphosa’s managers reveal that he is quietly developing and expanding a trophy hunting property called Diepdrift—stocking it with animals from his personal wildlife-breeding operation, Phala Phala—and that he owns a 50% stake in Tsala Hunting Safaris.
The group recorded conversations in which Ramaphosa’s staff members admit that he shares equally in the profits from all hunts conducted through Tsala and spoke of the importance of concealing his involvement.
One said: "We try to keep the president’s name actually out of the hunting thing …. So [Ramaphosa] wanna spare himself this, how can I say, bad publicity and all of that. So … we gotta do it under a different name brand, where none of my name or his name are connected to it."
In a statement on Saturday, the Presidency said that neither Ramaphosa nor Phala Phala, which he owns, have a stake in the trophy hunting industry or in Tsala Hunting Safaris.
Phala Phala is a privately-owned wildlife farm whose business is breeding game. Tsala are privately-owned hunting outfitters,"the statement said.
It said that the wildlife farm had been in operation since 2010 and "is run in accordance with the strictest conservation and wildlife management principles" and complies with the "best ethical and lawful practice in the sector."
However, Phala Phala, which undertakes culling operations, admitted to having entered into an agreement with Tsala Hunting Safaris to hunt game that would in any event have been culled.
In the light of allegations that Tsala engages in the hunting of threatened or protected species on other properties, Phala Phala has given notice to Tsala Safaris to terminate the hunting arrangement with them,"Ramaphosa’s statement said.
"This decision is in line with Phala Phala’s commitment to sound conservation principles, and its demonstrable compliance with ethical and lawful wildlife management standards."
Phala Phala Wildlife said it also noted that PETA US has previously made false allegations regarding the President’s interest in racing pigeon breeding.
"That PETA US continues to use its platforms to disseminate false information regarding Phala Phala Wildlife and Ramaphosa is wholly regrettable."
Video Courtesy of PETA.