Cyril rejects state house
Deputy president prefers to stay home in Hyde Park instead of moving to Pretoria
As the deputy president of the country, Cyril Ramaphosa gets exclusive use of a secure, Victorian-style mansion in Pretoria as his official residence. But the billionaire politician appears reluctant to move out of his plush home in Hyde Park, one of Joburg’s wealthiest suburbs. Ramaphosa lives in a narrow street in the suburb and counts IT tycoon Robert Gumede as one of his neighbours. When City Press drove past his house on Wednesday evening last week, the pavement opposite was lined with six Gauteng freeway patrol motorcycles, a number of Gauteng freeway patrol cars and two police VIP unit vehicles. The police officers were standing behind one of the cars, eating their takeaway dinners.
Ramaphosa is assigned a comprehensive security detail, which includes permanent guards at his home and the installation of a guardhouse. He moves with a larger convoy of vehicles than ordinary ministers because he has more VIP protection officers.
Although those who live near Ramaphosa speak highly of him as a “quiet, understated and very good neighbour”, his convoy has caused some traffic mayhem in the mornings.
“They just stop traffic. Often you have to sit and wait for up to 10 minutes,” said one neighbour. “Sometimes there are eight to 10 cars and a whole bunch of motorbikes with him. It’s so insane – it’s absolutely nuts.”
Ramaphosa said he was unaware of any complaints from his neighbours.
“If anyone has been inconvenienced, I am certainly ready to see what can be done to address their concerns,” he said through his spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa.
Mamoepa said Ramaphosa preferred to use his private home because his family – including his wife Dr Tshepo Motsepe and some of their four children – still live there.
Mamoepa said two neighbours with entrances near Ramaphosa’s gate had been “understanding” and “accommodating, and relate well with the security detail”.
Although many in the immediate vicinity of Ramaphosa’s house say the hefty VIP protection he receives is additional security for them, others aren’t feeling it.
Another neighbour spoke of a drug dealer who operates on a street corner a block away from Ramaphosa’s house, selling drugs to drivers who pull up for only a minute. But local police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Moses Maphakela, said the police had not received any complaints of drug dealing in Hyde Park.
The area’s former ward councillor, DA MP Gordon Mackay, said although he had not received any complaints about Ramaphosa’s motorcade, there had been neighbourhood gossip about how the City of Johannesburg’s water truck would go to just his home during the suburb’s frequent water outages. “I asked the city about it at the time, but they didn’t come back to me,” Mackay said.
There was initially confusion about whether the deputy presidential residence in Pretoria, OR Tambo House, was available to Ramaphosa – former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe had two months to move out, according to the Ministerial Handbook. But sources close to Motlanthe said he had left the property within the stipulated time.
Deputy presidents also have the use of the Highstead official residence in the Groote Schuur Estate when in Cape Town. There is no official residence in Durban.
Ramaphosa, a successful businessman and one of the richest men in South Africa, also owns Phala Phala – a 2 500-hectare game ranch west of Bela-Bela in Limpopo.