SA News

News in and around South Africa.

News24.com | 2 speedsters driving BMW, Chevrolet arrested clocking 200km/h on the N1

Two men have been arrested after they were caught speeding in separate incidents on the N1 in Limpopo on Sunday.

A 42-year-old man was arrested next to Nyl Plaza, tweeted the Limpopo department of transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation on Sunday.

He was driving his BMW X5 at 208km/h in a 120km/h zone.

The speedster has since been detained at Mokopane Police Station.

In a separate incident in Limpopo, a 48-year-old man driving a Chevrolet Lumina SS was caught  driving 214km/h on the N1, next to Dinoko Lodge at around 18:30 on Sunday.

He was detained at Westernberg Police Station, the department said.

The South African Police Services were not immediately available for comment.

Both arrests formed part of the province’s ongoing #OperationZeroTolerance.

Sport24.co.za | Blitzboks settle for bronze in Cape Town as Fiji walk away winners

Cape Town – The Blitzboks have settled for the bronze medal after edging New Zealand in their third-place Cup clash at the Cape Town Sevens on Sunday.

PICTURES: Some of the ‘out there’ outfits from the Cape Town Sevens

The Blitzboks won 10-5 after the scores were tied at 5-all at half-time.

Neil Powell’s side scored two tries through Werner Kok and Dewald Human.

New Zealand, who were the defending Cape Town champions, could only muster a solo try by Sione Molia.

Meanwhile, Fiji capitalised on mistake after mistake by the United States to win the Cape Town Sevens title 29-15, sending the Americans to a second straight defeat in a final at the start of the season.

The upside for the USA is that they now lead the series standings by a point.

Fiji scored four tries – and led 22-0 before the USA could respond – as they clinched a first title in South Africa since 2005.

Kalione Nasoko was the first over for Fiji in the third minute as no USA defender committed and he kept going down the left wing.

Vilimoni Botitu intercepted and raced away from deep inside Fiji’s half for the second five-pointer.

Sevuloni Mocenacagi scored off Perry Baker’s error, when he threw the ball away, and Botitu’s second came when he broke through two half-hearted tackles.

The USA lost to New Zealand in the final of last weekend’s season-opener in Dubai.

Results from the second and final day of the World Rugby Cape Town Sevens tournament at the Cape Town Stadium on Sunday:

Cup quarter-finals:

South Africa 21 Scotland 12

Fiji 46 Spain 7

New Zealand 26 Australia 17

USA 19 England 12

Cup semi-finals:

Fiji 17 South Africa 12

USA 31 New Zealand 12

Third place match:

South Africa 10 New Zealand 5

Final:

Fiji 29 USA 15

Fifth place semi-finals:

Scotland 7 Spain 12

England 24 Australia 21

Fifth place final:

England 14 Spain 7

Challenge Trophy quarter-finals:

Samoa 31 Wales 26

France 31 Japan 0

Canada 28 Zimbabwe 24

Argentina 34 Kenya 31

Challenge Trophy semi-finals:

Samoa 31 France 7

Argentina 24 Canada 14

Challenge Trophy final:

Argentina 38 Samoa 14

13th place sem-ifinals:

Wales 28 Japan 7

Kenya 31 Zimbabwe 19

13th place final:

Kenya 33 Wales 26

News24.com | Mob hunts down, burns to death 3 men they suspect of murder after beer hall fight

A mob in Mphephu outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo has attacked and killed 3 men, suspected of killing another man at a tavern in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It is understood that a fight broke out at a beer hall in ga-Mulelu village where a 22-year-old man was later found dead in a pool of blood.

Subsequent to this death, it is alleged that members of the community mobilised each other and started hunting down those who were purportedly responsible for the man’s death.

When they found the trio they suspected of the murder, they took them back to the spot where the 22-year-old was killed, stoned and burned them to death.

Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said a “massive manhunt the group of suspects who took the law into their own hands has been launched”.

“Four cases of murder have been opened for further police investigations,” Ngoepe said.

The process of identifying the three deceased was still unfolding.

READ: Murder case opened after mob justice attack in Port Elizabeth

Limpopo police Commissioner Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba has condemned the recurring incidents of mob-attacks and killings that are still prevalent in some parts of his province “with the most strongest terms”, and warned members of the community to refrain from taking the law into their own hands.

“The police must be given a space to deal with any criminal act without [the community] resorting to violence which is totally uncalled for,” Ledwaba concluded

News24.com | Suspects wearing EFF t-shirts accused of vandalism released on warning

The six suspects who were arrested for allegedly vandalising Vodacom shops at Mall of the North in Polokwane have been released on a warning.

Their malicious damage to property charges have now been postponed to February 22 for further police investigations.

On Sunday, the group together with scores of others wearing EFF t-shirts, vandalised a Vodacom store in the Mall of the North in Polokwane, Limpopo. There were also reports of an vandalism in Makhado, as well as Greenstone mall on Monday.

The protests followed a lecture by the chairperson of corruption watch Mavuso Msimang at the 2018 Vodacom journalism awards where he presented an image depicting EFF leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu as “abusers of freedom”.

Police spokesperson Motlafela Mojapelo said “the identity of the suspects, whose ages range between 25 and 45, will for now be withheld, pending police investigations that are unfolding,”

He said more arrests are imminent, despite Vodacom and EFF having had a mutual agreement.

Vodacom and EFF leadership met after the incidents and resolved their misunderstanding and agreed that the “matter could have been handled differently”.

“Vodacom acknowledged that it is politically neutral and it doesn’t influence party political positions in any way. Vodacom and EFF appreciate that the matter could have been handled differently to avoid the misunderstanding that occurred,” the EFF and Vodacom said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

News24.com | KZN strikers barricade mortuary – ‘Come arrest us’

Striking workers barricaded the gates of the Fort Napier Medico Legal Mortuary in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, GroundUp reported.

The striking forensic staff were joined by other Nehawu members from different regions of the province, carrying placards aimed at KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

Mortuary staff have been on a go-slow since November for a wage increase and better working conditions. They have previously told GroundUp that conditions at the mortuary are shocking. Workers are demanding backpay they say they were promised on April 1.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health issued an ultimatum for the workers to return to work or face arrest.

‘Come arrest us’

“They must come and arrest us. We don’t care,” said one of the workers.

“Dhlomo has failed to honour his promises as the head of the department,” said Nokubonga Magwenyane.

“We are not the ones striking; Dhlomo is. Workers are on a go-slow; there is a difference. On Monday, police came here… They took the cars, car keys and the stationery. There is no register… How are we supposed to work? He must stop misleading the public. He is the one who is not working.”

Joshua Simelane, Nehawu chairperson in the Harry Gwala Region, who also works at the mortuary, said: “We met with the national officials on Tuesday, who deployed Dhlomo to deal with the matter provincially. Prior to that, on Monday, the unions met in Gauteng to discuss the money issue. Dhlomo is the one who promised to pay workers… That has never happened. We are happy that other mortuaries in KZN have joined us. Mortuaries in Durban have also shut down completely,” said Simelane.

‘Genuine issues’

Cosatu provincial chairperson Skhumbuzo Mdlalose said: “Workers are raising genuine issues which need to be investigated. Whatever call they are making for the MEC to be removed, as Cosatu we are going to look into that… The Department of Health has serious issues… We have met with Dhlomo as Cosatu. To our surprise, it has been a disappointment.”

GroundUp tried to get comment from Dhlomo’s office, but were referred to a Department of Health statement. It is an ultimatum to striking staff at the Fort Napier mortuary to return to work on Wednesday or face arrest for up to 30 days for contempt of court. The statement said this comes after numerous attempts to persuade workers to abandon the go-slow. The strike is undeclared and the workers are classified as providing an essential service, according to the department.

“Dead bodies are no child’s play. When you deal with such you need support. We are not getting that from this department. Court interdicts are nothing compared to what we deal with every day,” said a worker.

News24.com | FACT CHECK: Update – No contracts from Treasury to companies affiliated with Anisha Gordhan

National Treasury has confirmed that it did not award contracts to any of the 24 companies affiliated with Anisha Gordhan, the daughter of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The revelations come on the back of claims by leadership of the EFF that Gordhan junior was a proxy for her father’s business and had “amassed more than R80 million” doing business with government.

Treasury was first asked to confirm whether it had awarded contracts to any companies linked to Anisha on November 21. Treasury investigated News24’s detailed query for two weeks and on Wednesday confirmed it had not awarded contracts to these companies between 2009 and 2018.

News24 previously scrutinised these claims and found they had no basis in fact. Anisha had served on the boards of several companies as a representative of Investec in a non-executive capacity.

She was employed in the equity division of Investec, which manages the firm’s investments, from 2007 to 2017.   

Investec and Gordhan have both denied that she ever received any payments for her positions at these companies.

ALSO READ: Here is the EFF’s ‘evidence’ on Anisha Gordhan – and why it’s bogus

News24 asked Treasury to confirm whether it had awarded any contracts to the entities, linked to the younger Gordhan by company records, between January 1, 2009, and November 20, 2018, and provided a full list of all the companies and their registration numbers.

Gordhan was finance minister from May 11, 2009, to May 25, 2014, and again from December 14, 2015, to March 31, 2017.

Gordhan yet to respond to EFF

News24’s query mirrors that of Floyd Shivambu, the EFF chief whip and the party’s deputy president, who wrote to Gordhan on October 26 this year with a similar request.

Shivambu’s query was somewhat open-ended in that it asked for “a list of all contracts and/or tenders awarded by the departments and entities that report to the ministry to the companies listed in Annexure A (below) between 2009 and 2018”.

This implies that Gordhan was required to provide the information on tenders or contracts awarded by entities that fall under the public enterprises ministry, his current portfolio.

Shivambu’s list of companies, in which Anisha served as a director at varying stages between 2007 and 2017, is not the complete list of companies she was affiliated to.

Minister Gordhan has not responded to the letter.

The EFF also addressed parliamentary questions to all ministers. The party claimed to have received 11 responses confirming other companies Anisha was linked to, mainly IT firm Vox Telecommunications, and showing that these companies had received more than R80m in contracts from various departments.

News24 has seen six of the 11 responses to the EFF’s questions and determined that Vox has received contracts from a number of government departments totalling at least R50m.

Anisha also served as a non-executive director at Vox, and Minister Gordhan and Investec have denied that she received any benefit from Vox as a result of these companies being awarded government contracts.

Investec also holds a large stake in Vox, which necessitated Gordhan junior’s position as a non-executive on its board.

ALSO READ: EFF hits back at Gordhan with charges of their own

*Do you have a tip for our investigative journalists? Send an email to tips@24.com

Information notice on the official gold and foreign exchange reserves of the South African Reserve Bank as at 30 November 2018

Publish Date: 2018-12-07
Category: Information Notice
Author: Financial Markets

This notice provides detail of the US dollar equivalent of the level of the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) official gold and foreign exchange reserves, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and foreign currency deposits received from customers published today in the SARB’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities as at 30 November 2018.

Attachments:


News24.com | When can a landlord evict law-abiding tenants to renovate?

When can a landlord evict law-abiding tenants in order to effect refurbishments? And when can a landlord evict tenants for this reason on an urgent basis?

These two questions are currently before the Constitutional Court in an application for leave to appeal an eviction that the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ordered on May 23, 2018, GroundUp reported.

Background

The case concerns the fate of more than 50 tenants of a derelict building in Hillbrow, some of whom have lived on the property for as long as 25 years. The building is owned by Lewray Investments and managed by Urban Taskforce Investments.

The building was erected in 1954. It is currently in a poor condition and in need of refurbishment. The parties do not dispute this. What is in dispute however, is what process must be followed to effect refurbishments and what the respective rights of the tenants and landlord are in these circumstances.

In January 2018, the landlord provided the tenants with a notice to vacate the property for refurbishments. In the notice, the landlord offered to relocate the tenants to another building which it owns. Alternatively, it offered the tenants a R5 000 cash payment as compensation.

The tenants interpreted the notice as an eviction notice and referred a dispute to the Rental Housing Tribunal.

According to the Constitution, a person cannot be evicted without a court order. A landlord must follow the procedure set out by the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation Act (PIE Act).

The Rental Housing Tribunal made its ruling on March 5, 2018. It ruled that the landlord’s notice was merely a notice to vacate the property and not an eviction notice. It also found that the notice provided the tenants with two options. Their first option was to vacate the property in which case they would be entitled not to pay rent for that period. Alternatively, they could remain on the property, but this would mean that they would have no claim for damages should they sustain injuries or damage during the refurbishment.

The tribunal also said that should the tenants choose to vacate the property, the landlord must provide them with alternative accommodation and offer them the sum of R2 500 as compensation.

After the tribunal’s order, the landlord sent another notice to the tenants. This time it instructed the tenants to vacate the property immediately. The tenants refused to vacate. The landlord then approached the High Court on an urgent basis to evict the tenants.

The High Court granted this order on May 23, 2018. But the tenants applied for leave to appeal which the court refused. They then approached the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal but this too was rejected.

Urgency

In a last effort to set aside the eviction, the tenants approached the Constitutional Court for relief.

In their papers, they raise two main arguments. The first is that the High Court applied the wrong procedure for urgent evictions. The second is that the eviction was improper because it circumvented the PIE Act and related regulations.

The tenants argued that the High Court applied the incorrect procedure for urgent evictions. This is because the PIE Act requires, among other things, that the property pose a real and imminent danger of substantial injury to person or property.

Although the building was in a poor condition, this and other requirements in the PIE Act were not met. The tenants argue that the High Court conceded this, but instead of applying this test, which is set out in Section 5 of the PIE Act, the High Court applied the test for urgent applications, which is set out in the High Court rules.

The tenants argue that the High Court’s approach has grave consequences for poor and vulnerable tenants. This is because in adopting this approach, the High Court accepted financial expediency as a basis to grant an urgent eviction.

The tenants argue that this infringes their constitutional rights and urgent evictions may only be granted under the strict circumstances laid down by the PIE Act.

Improper eviction

The second main argument the tenants raise is that the eviction violated the Gauteng Regulations to the Rental Housing Act. These regulate when tenants may be evicted in order to make refurbishments. The tenants highlight a few elements of the regulations.

Firstly, they only permit the landlord to cancel the lease and evict a tenant if the property is uninhabitable. Secondly, they give the tenant the right to return to a property of the same size when the refurbishments are complete. Thirdly, the regulations provide that the tenants are entitled to not pay rent during the period of refurbishment.

The tenants argue that the regulations try to bridge the power imbalance between poor and vulnerable tenants in derelict buildings and powerful landlords. The tenants argue that the High Court violated the regulations and the PIE Act in three ways.

First, the High Court erred by finding that the tenants were “unlawful occupiers” in terms of the PIE Act and could therefore be evicted. This contravenes the PIE Act because it defines an unlawful occupier as someone who has no legal right to be on the property.

However, it was common cause that the tenants paid all their rent which was due and the lease had not been cancelled. Secondly, the High Court acknowledged that the landlord intended to destroy the current flats and subdivide them. So the tenants’ rights to return to the same property would be violated because they would be returning to smaller units.

Thirdly, the High Court refused to stop the tenants’ rent during the refurbishment period as required by the regulations.

Relief sought

The tenants argue that the eviction should be set aside and they must be housed in units of the same size and be entitled to a remission of rental.

The landlord’s arguments

But the landlord argues that the question of the correct test for urgency is moot because the tenants have already been relocated following a consent order granted on September 8, 2018. As far as the question of the regulations and not having to pay rent go, the landlord argues that the Rental Housing Tribunal – not the Constitutional Court – is best tasked to resolve this question.

This is because the question of whether a landlord may evict tenants to make refurbishments involves complex technical and economic issues that the tribunal is best tasked to answer. The landlord also argues that to make a return on its investment, it is obliged to subdivide the units; it is not economically viable to keep the units the current size.

Why this case is important

This case raises important questions about the competing interests of landlords and tenants in derelict buildings in Johannesburg. This is an issue not only in Johannesburg, but for cities across the country.

As activists and communities fight against gentrification and urban renewal, the question of how these competing interests should be resolved is one the courts must urgently answer. 

News24.com | Joburg ANC leader scored millions from city contract

For more than a decade, financial services firm Regiments has managed billions on behalf of the City of Johannesburg. It is one of the City’s most lucrative but controversial contracts. New evidence shows that Regiments paid a top ANC leader millions to smooth its way.

By Susan Comrie | amaBhungane

Geoff Makhubo – chair of the ANC’s powerful Johannesburg region and prospective mayoral candidate – scored an estimated R30m from the City of Johannesburg by acting as an influence broker, new evidence suggests.

In 2006, Regiments Fund Managers, a division of Regiments Capital, received a contract to manage the city’s “sinking fund”, a pool of several billion rand put aside to meet the city’s future debt repayments. 

By 2015, Regiments had taken an estimated R300m in fees.

Emails and documents obtained by amaBhungane reveal for the first time publicly that Regiments agreed to pay 10% of those fees to Makhubo’s company, Molelwane Consulting.

Makhubo denies acting as an “influence broker” and says the deal was above-board.  While their contract stipulated that Molelwane would provide some initial financial analysis, significantly it also required Molelwane to “maintain… strategic relationships with CoJ”.

The 2006 Regiments sinking fund contract with the city endured for almost 10 years – as did Molewane’s 10% cut, as far as could be established.

At the time the 10% contract was signed Makhubo did not hold an official position in the ANC or in the city, though he was said to be an ally of Parks Tau, then the member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for finance. The Regiments contract fell under Tau’s portfolio.

But as Makhubo’s political star rose, he increased his potential to open doors and smooth political roadblocks.

In 2008, Makhubo was elected as treasurer of the ANC’s Johannesburg region. Then, in 2011, after Tau became mayor, he took over as MMC for finance, placing the Regiments sinking fund contract directly within his sphere of responsibility. 

Tau admitted in a written response that he knew Makhubo was linked to Regiments when he appointed him as MMC, but maintained Makhubo had done the right thing to remove the conflict of interest.

“I was aware that Regiments and Molelwane had a business relationship. However, I was not privy to their internal business arrangements or transactions,” he told us. 

He added: “On [Makhubo’s] appointment he committed [to unwind] and begun winding down his business interests, which ensured that he was not ‘the player’ and ‘a referee’ on the said contract, or any other contracts in the City.” 

But Makhubo did not “unwind” his interest in Molelwane. 

Records from the company registrar still list him as an active member of Molelwane.

And despite providing eight pages of written responses, Makhubo could neither explain this nor why he continued to declare that he held a 67% stake in Molelwane in the City’s public register of councillor’s interests.  

“Our records reflect that Mr Makhubo continued to declare his majority shareholding in Molelwane Consulting CC until 2017/18,” the City confirmed in a written response.

Makhubo said he could not disclose how much Regiments paid Molelwane. He told us: “Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to do a reconciliation of the actual total earnings…” 

But evidence suggests that Molelwane continued to be paid after Makhubo was appointed as MMC. Regiments’ internal budgets show, for example, that R4.9m was earmarked for Molelwane in fiscal 2013 and another R5.5m the following year.

This means that as the City’s official tasked with policing one of its most lucrative and controversial contracts, Makhubo was benefitting from that same contract in exchange for “maintain[ing] … strategic relationships” with the City. 

“I can emphatically state that all my dealings and the operations of [Molelwane] have been ethical and in accordance with strict corporate governance…. This is no different as an office bearer of the ANC and during my tenure as the MMC of Finance in the City of Johannesburg,” Makhubo told us.

On Thursday last week, the council passed a motion that would allow the city to take back control of the sinking fund before Regiments’ second contract expires in September 2020. 

The City has launched a forensic investigation into both the sinking fund contracts as well as numerous other contracts the City awarded when it was under ANC control.

Although Regiments’ ongoing payments to Molelwane after Makhubo became MMC may be construed as “kickbacks” and potentially contravene anti-corruption legislation, we have no direct evidence that the payments started out as common-or-garden-variety bribes to secure the 2006 sinking fund contract or its renewed award to Regiments in 2015.

Either way, the payments appear to be part of a decade-long campaign by Regiments to build a financially symbiotic relationship with different levels of ANC through lobbying, “facilitation fees”, and donations of flights, merchandise, victory parties and cash. (Read more about these in our next instalment.)

Regiments ignored all requests for comment.

“Your conclusion on the relationship between the ANC, City of Johannesburg and Regiments is unfortunate,” Tau told us.

Unfortunate, but not unjustified.


Cashflow


“We are a bit low on cashflow…” Makhubo told Regiments’ director Eric Wood via email.

It was Monday August 30, 2010, and Makhubo was desperately looking for money to plug “month-end commitments” just two days away.

“I will appreciate if the transfer can be done today,” he continued, attaching an invoice for R1.14m for “consulting fees” to be paid to Molelwane, which on the face of it specialised in accounting, tax consulting, advisory and financial services. Makhubo’s mother held a one-third stake in the firm alongside his two thirds.

Makhubo’s request to Wood was not a once-off request: a second document attached to Makhubo’s email showed that Molelwane had received R3.95-million from Regiments in the preceding nine months.

At the time – August 2010 – Makhubo had not yet been appointed MMC for finance, but as treasurer of the ANC’s Johannesburg region he had political influence over a key source of patronage: the City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality.

“I will send on a separate email a letter from the ANC discussed with [Regiments’ chairperson Litha Nyhonyha] on the donation of R200,000 to R250,000 that was needed urgently into the ANC account,” Makhubo’s email concluded.

By 10.30 the next morning, Regiments had paid R600 000 into Molelwane’s account with the promise that the rest of the R1.14m would be paid “by the end of the day or latest tomorrow”.


Makhubo’s ‘strategic relationships’


To understand why Regiments would jump at Molelwane’s request for money in 2010, one needs to go back to 2005, when the City of Johannesburg first decided to establish a sinking fund.

When we first asked about the secretive deal between Regiments and Molelwane, Makhubo tried to downplay it, telling us in a written statement that Regiments and Molelwane had agreed to “explore business opportunities on mutual areas of interest” and that Molelwane had merely agreed “to provide advisory services within its areas of expertise”.

But the actual wording of the contract, signed by Makhubo for Molelwane and Nyhonyha for Regiments in January 2006, suggests otherwise.

Under “fee structure”, for instance, there was only one deal on the table: Regiments’ freshly inked sinking fund deal. Molelwane was promised 10% of Regiments’ fixed fee, 10% of Regiments’ outperformance bonus, and almost half of Regiments’ R850 000 upfront “structuring fee”.

In exchange for this windfall, Molelwane effectively agreed to act as a lobbyist. Under “responsibilities”, one of Molelwane’s tasks was to “[m]aintain on an ongoing basis all strategic relationships with COJ before, during and after completion of fund management mandate for the mutual benefit of the parties”.

Makhubo refused to identify which “strategic relationships” he would be required to “maintain”, but in a second written response told us: “The clauses of the contract were very clear, commercial and had no other meaning as suggested. Any suggestion … of impropriety or corruption in the relationship between Molelwane and Regiments is without basis.”

Pushed to explain what Molelwane did to justify the estimated R30m in fees it received, Makhubo told us in a third response: “Part of Molelwane Consulting’s responsibilities was to analyse and understand the City’s capital expenditure requirements, capital raising needs, appetite for different funding mix and a broad funding direction…

“There are no merits to suggest that a risk based remuneration agreement would be solely based in ‘exchange for maintaining strategic relations’. That’s a very narrow and simplistic way of looking at it… [I]t naturally becomes the responsibility of all parties to the agreement, without exception, to build and maintain relations with the client. There’s absolutely nothing peculiar with that.”

What is peculiar is that, despite Molelwane taking very large fees, both the City and Umbono Fund Managers, which partnered Regiments on the contract, told us they had no record of Molelwane’s involvement.  

The evidence shows that Regiments was buying something more than vague financial analysis that it could do itself. By late 2010, with Makhubo installed as ANC treasurer, it was clear what Regiments believed it had bought.


Makhubo’s cheat sheet


“As discussed I have attached the one pager that we gave to Geoff,” Wood told Nyhonyha, his chair at Regiments, in a November 19, 2010 email with the subject line “CoJ cheat sheet”. 

In case there was any doubt about which “Geoff” he was referring to, the attachment was saved as “Geoff Makhubo Briefing.docx” and it contained an extraordinary shopping list of what Regiments seemingly expected Makhubo – now a member of the Johannesburg ANC’s executive – to deliver.

There was a R1bn loan that Regiments was trying to sell to the City: “Stalled because Parks [Tau] made some negative comment re the pricing … Direction needs to be provided to Treasury to proceed with this loan,” Wood directed. Treasury is the department that falls under the finance MMC, which Tau was at the time.

There was also an interest rate hedge that Regiments stood to profit from: “Treasury has approved the transaction in principle, needs mandate from Mayoral Committee”. And a Johannesburg Property Company tender: “Needs to be adjudicated and appointment needs to be made”. And R27m in Regiments fees that the treasury was sitting on: “The withholding of these funds is unlawful and needs to be released forthwith,” Wood ordered.

But Wood’s most telling instruction related to the renewal of Regiments’ sinking fund contract, which was due to expire in January 2011 and was back up for tender.

“Needs to be adjudicated and appointment needs to be made. The issue around splitting the mandate between two [fund] managers needs to be killed,” the cheat sheet read.

How, we asked Makhubo, was Regiments so confident of winning the tender that it wanted to “kill” any suggestion that the contract be split between two fund managers? 

His response to this and other questions about the cheat sheet was evasive: “I have never been involved in procurement processes therefore I wouldn’t know how a bidding party would derive a sense or feeling of surety.”  When pushed he told us: “I have no recollection of the so-called ‘cheat sheet’ and the issues raised have nothing to do with neither Molelwane nor our agreement with Regiments Capital.”


No influence?


By law, there is meant to be a Chinese wall between political office bearers and the procurement departments of the municipalities they control. Even Tau, as the then-MMC for finance, could not legally interfere with the city’s tender processes.

Yet over the next year, Regiments received almost everything on its wish-list: In January 2011, the city agreed to release R18.4m of Regiments’ fees; in March, Regiments facilitated a smaller R250m loan for the City and received R1.25m as a raising fee; and in December, Regiments was one of two bidders awarded Johannesburg Property Company tender. 

The only hiccup was the tender for the new sinking fund contract. 

Under Regiments the fund had performed well, but a review conducted by KPMG in 2010 criticised Regiments’ fees for being excessive.

When the bids for the new tender to replace Regiments’ first contract were adjudicated, “Regiments Fund Managers … was not a preferred bidder and had in fact been disqualified”, Isaac Mogashoa, the City’s group head: legal and contracts, told us.  

But just as the goose laying the golden eggs appeared to be running out of luck, Tau discovered a fundamental flaw with the tender process.


Finding gaps in the Chinese wall


“The MMC Finance’s view … is that the evaluation process must include social investments to uplift the communities around the City,” Khomotso Letsatsi, the head of treasury, told colleagues in an April 2011 memo.

The award of the new sinking fund contract was already months overdue, but according to Letsatsi’s memo, Tau halted the tender on the grounds that it did not include a programme to address transformation in the city’s procurement practices.

Tau denies he intervened to protect Regiments’ interests: “The articulated principles of transformation requirements in the memos applied to every tender in the city and not just the Sinking Fund tender.” Instead he pointed us to a letter, written by Gauteng’s then-MEC for co-operative governance, Humphrey Mmemezi, in March 2011.

“The primary reason for the cancellation of the sinking fund tender was as a result of an issued instruction by [Mmemezi] at the time to defer all local government tenders until after the 2011 elections,” Tau explained.

Although Mmemezi had already walked back on his instruction in a follow-up letter in April 2011, emphasising that municipalities should continue with their normal business, the second sinking fund tender was put on hold.

It would take a year for the city to re-issue the tender. In the interim, Regiments’ original contract was extended and kept running, and seemingly so did Molelwane’s fees.

So did Regiments just get lucky? Or was it a case of the more they invested, the luckier they got?


Tau, Makhubo, their wives and Regiments


By 2011, the evidence suggests Regiments had already “invested” quite heavily in and around both Tau and Makhubo – quite apart from Molelwane’s 10%.

In 2007, Regiments jointly-led a BEE consortium that bought a stake in Capitec, then an upstart in the banking industry. 

The Coral Lagoon consortium was stacked with ANC funders and those with links to the party, but the deal also included a small but lucrative stake for Tau’s wife, Philisiwe Twala-Tau. 

At the time, her shares were worth R3m but today, those shares are worth roughly R50m. 

An identical stake was also allocated to Makhubo’s wife, Dikeledi Majola. 

Regiments has previously maintained that it did not hand-pick consortium members.

However, a year later it happened again. In September 2008, Regiments put together a BEE consortium to acquire a 4.24% stake in JSE-listed Vox Telecom. 

Regiments’ own documents show that under several layers of the corporate onion was a small group of “strategic partners” who would each receive shares worth just over R1m. 

Included in the group was Makhubo, who had been elected treasurer of the ANC’s Greater Johannesburg region just one month before at a conference partly funded by another R250 000 donation from Regiments.  

Emails show that Tau was also listed as one of the “strategic partners” but withdrew from the consortium at the last minute.

Unlike the Capitec deal, the Vox deal quickly unraveled. On the day it was signed the share price collapsed. The “strategic partners” walked away unscathed. 


What conflict?


By 24 May 2011, the local government election results were in. The ANC had kept its majority in the City of Johannesburg and appointed Tau as the new mayor.

With Tau moving up, Makhubo was tapped to take his place as MMC for finance. 

Makhubo denies the Molelwane contract made him conflicted.

“There was never a conflict of interest as the term of Molelwane agreement with Regiments on the first Sinking Fund would have lapsed in January 2011 the year I took public office,” he said.

“I … made a commitment to the Mayor of the day and the ANC when I was appointed MMC that I will unwind my interests and resign all my directorships. All this was done in November 2011… to deal with real or potential conflict of interest.”

But it is only half true that Molelwane’s contract “would have lapsed in January 2011”. 

When the second tender was cancelled, Regiments’ original contract kept running, and running. In fact, the city confirmed that Regiments’ first contract was ultimately extended until September 2015. 

Records show that the payments to Molelwane only increased in this period. For example, Regiments’ budget for the year ending Februarty 28, 2014, predicted that Molelwane would net R5.2m for the year. Yet, a Regiments actual income statement shows that by September 2013, with another five months to go, Molelwane had already received R6.9m.

Over the past month, we repeatedly asked Makhubo to confirm when Molelwane stopped receiving payments from Regiments. Each time he dodged the question. 

Makhubo also did not offer any explanation for why his “resignation” was never officially registered or why he continued to declare his stake in Molelwane for the seven years after he supposedly resigned. 

Last week, ANC spokesperson Jolidee Matongo sent us a resolution signed by Makhubo purporting to show that he resigned from Molelwane in November 2011.

 

But the records are ambiguous. The resolution had Makhubo resigning as a “director” – not shareholder – meaning that he would have remained entitled to his two thirds of Molelwane’s profits. But complicating matters further, Molelwane was a close corporation, a form of company which does not have “directors”, only members.

Despite our request for clarity, Makhubo refused to own a version. Instead, in a final written response told us: “I would like to reiterate that I have replied to the questions and provided requisite clarity.”

Even if we were to accept Makhubo’s claim that he resigned, this would have left his 64-year-old mother as the sole beneficiary of the company and Regiments’ largesse.


New tenders, new questions


In April 2012, the city issued a new tender for the sinking fund contract. This time Regiments not only made the shortlist, it was the only company to do so.

The 12 bidders included four major banks – Standard Bank, Nedbank, Investec and Rand Merchant Bank – as well as several large asset managers – Momentum, Sanlam, Stanlib and Old Mutual. Most were eliminated on technicalities and those that made it through were marked down for lacking a track record in managing sinking funds.

Only Regiments – whose fees were the highest out of eight bids analysed in the bid evaluation committee’s report – was left standing. 

In August 2012, rival bidder Colourfields approached the Johannesburg High Court to try to stop the city from awarding the second sinking fund contract to Regiments.

When amaBhungane published a series of articles in October 2012, pointing to signs of manipulation in Regiments’ favour, Tau called for an investigation.

“When this matter was first raised with me by Amabhungane … I had immediately referred it to the Integrity Commissioner in the City of Johannesburg and the Public Protector to investigate,” Tau told us in his written response. 

At the time, almost no one knew about Molelwane’s “10% deal” with Regiments, so the investigation by Advocate Jules Browde appears to have largely focused on whether the Capitec shares given to Tau’s wife were intended as a quid pro quo for Regiments securing the first deal in 2006.

Browde’s report concluded that “Tau played no part whatsoever in the tender process or the subsequent contract entered into between the City and Regiments” and dismissed the allegations, saying that the award of the sinking fund contract “appears to have been above board”. 

According to Tau, a subsequent review by Deloitte also gave the second sinking fund contract a clean bill of health. In 2015, after Colourfields aborted its legal challenge, the contract was finally re-awarded to Regiments for another five years. 

So why, three years later, is the City once again prising open these contracts? 


That sinking feeling


As the manager of a sinking fund, you have one job to do: make sure the money is available to repay debts when they become due.

According to the City, state armaments company Denel’s failure to repay the fund a R290m loan made under Regiments’ stewardship triggered a forensic investigation into Regiments’ management of the fund.

“During 2018, the R290m Denel loan from the sinking fund had to be repaid but Denel did not have the funds and Regiments failed to inform the City timeously,” Mogashoa said. 

Unbeknown to the City, it appears that Regiments was eating at both ends of the deal: While Regiments Fund Managers was being paid to make prudent investments on behalf of the sinking fund, Regiments Capital received a R3.42m fee from Denel, seemingly for securing R290m in debt from the sinking fund.

The City has agreed, Mogashoa said, to wait until December 10, 2018 for its R290m, but the “distrust and concern” that the incident generated, coupled with the growing evidence that Regiments had helped facilitate Gupta-led state capture, led it to launch the forensic investigation into the sinking fund contracts and “all transactions processed through the Sinking Fund bank accounts from 2006 to date”.

Up until today, the city does not know how much Regiments has received from the two sinking fund contracts, but estimates it to be in the region of R400m. 

But if the City seeks to reclaim any portion of the sinking fund fees it will have to get in line. 

Regiments is already in court with a Transnet pension fund which wants Regiments to return R228m in fees, and last month Transnet itself filed papers demanding that R151m in excessive fees be repaid.

In the pension fund case, Regiments faces more than just a financial threat though. In August, the Johannesburg High Court granted an “Anton Piller” order that resulted in Regiments’ email servers, laptops, hard-drives and cellphones being seized by the sheriff of the court.

The court granted the order in secret based on claims that these digital records hold crucial evidence relating to the pension fund case. 

But the hard-drives are also likely to hold something far more damaging: evidence that Makhubo was just one target in a much wider bid by Regiments to own the ANC. 

For more on Regiments’ capture of the ANC, read the next part of this investigation … coming soon.

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter to help it do more.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*