EXCLUSIVE: Veil of secrecy surrounds Ramaphosa lawyer’s death

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Steve Motale

JOHANNESBURG- A veil of secrecy surrounds the death of a prominent Sandton lawyer whose law firm has admitted to acting as a conduit through which money was channeled to Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to become the ANC president.

Barry Eugene Farber, the founder of Edelstein Farber Grobler (EFG), died last week in his sleep. EFG is the law firm into whose ABSA bank account Bosasa deposited R500 000 donation from its boss Gavin Watson for Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC presidential campaign, a donation that was designed to be hidden from scrutiny.
Last month, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found Ramaphosa guilty of “inadvertently misleading” Parliament and failing to declare a R500 000 donation from Bosasa. Mkhwebane’s findings indicated that the donation was transferred from Watson’s personal account into the account of Miotto Trading, a company owned by Margaret Longworth, a sister of Bosasa’s former auditor Peet Venter, and then into the CR17 Attorneys Trust Account, managed by Edelsten, Faber & Grobbler (EFG) Attorneys.
According to sources, Farber, who started the law firm, died in the early hours of last Sunday (11 August) from a heart attack and was buried the same day at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg in accordance with the Jewish rites. Ramaphosa and Farber have a longstanding relationship. In 2005, he represented Ramaphosa against DaimlerChrysler, when the company published a story that Ramaphosa, who was then a businessman and a member of the ANC national executive committee (NEC), was one of the only four clients in Southern Africa who owned a Maybach 62, which at that time cost almost R3.4 million.
Farber denied Ramaphosa owned the luxury car and threatened to sue DaimlerChrysler. Some of Farber’s other prominent clients include major banks such as Nedbank, Investec, and Bidvest. It appears from the leaked FNB statements, which were widely shared on social media since last week that Farber was running two attorneys Trust accounts, one under the name of Farber Sabelo Edelstein Attorney(“FSE”) and another under the name of Edelstein Farber Grobler (EFG).
Sources within the Jewish community say Farber’s death has sent shock waves throughout
the community, with some suspecting foul play as a result of Mr. Farber’s link to CR17 donation’s scandal. However, a spokesman from EFG who preferred to remain anonymous denied foul play claims, only saying, “We don’t want to entertain any speculation and rumours into the death of Mr. Farber. What we know is that Mr. Farber died suddenly and peacefully in his sleep”.
Farber first practiced in Germiston under name Huftel Klavansky & Farber before moving to Dunkeld West around 1996 and practiced under the name Barry Farber Attorneys. In 2008, the firm changed its name to Farber Sabelo Edelstein Attorney (partners being Barry Farber, George Sabelo; Greg Edelstein and Ronel Grobler). Sabelo left the firm in November 2011. Subsequent to Sabelo leaving the firm, it changed its name to Edelstein Farber Grobler (EFG).
Sabelo allegedly received millions in the rollout of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) controversial R3.5-billion locomotives contract. He was also implicated in a corruption scandal at PetroSA in 2013.