News - Date: 12 October 2018
Written by: Anton van Zyl / Viewed: 1630
The Vhembe region waited in anticipation since Wednesday to hear when “heads are going to roll”, following the release of the SA Reserve Bank’s report on the shenanigans at VBS Mutual Bank. The names of several prominent politicians as well as the Vhavenda king were mentioned in the report.
The alleged involvement of the mayor of the Vhembe District Municipality, Cllr Florence Radzilani, caused a WhatsApp storm on Wednesday. A conversation between the then chairman of VBS, Tshifhiwa Matodzi and Kabelo Matsepe, described as “a politically connected fixer”, was published in the report. In this conversation it seems as if the audacity of the persons accepting bribes was reaching peak level, with complaints that the municipal officials are getting more money than the politicians.
The WhatsApp discussion on 20 December 2017 allegedly was as follows:
“The Mayor of Vhembe is crying she says we must give her and the speaker a Christmas because they are the ones who are making sure we keep that money for six months. We gave her 300k and she cried and said we gave juniors R1.5 million and we give her 300k …”
Matodzi apparently conceded that they will have to make adjustments. “Go ahead … But she must know the formula”. Matsepe then calculated that it will amount to R2,3 million, but suggested she be given only half of that.
The report, titled “The Great Bank Heist”, more than ruffled the feathers of political parties and officials. It explained in detail how the mutual bank was hijacked and used to bankroll individuals, companies and apparently even royal houses. It also mentions the name of prominent politicians, such as the ANC’s provincial treasurer, Danny Msiza, who is described as the kingpin of the so-called “commission agent scheme”.
Since Thursday several of the people implicated in the report released press statements professing their innocence and also their outrage at being implicated in corruption without having an opportunity to state their side of the story. Msiza attributed it to a smear campaign over a “prolonged period”.
“The segment of the report as it relates to me is therefore not puzzling, but a logical culmination of a sustained political smear with no shred of empirical evidence of wrong doing. My name is being drawn into this sad episode based purely on untested allegations, gossips, baseless observations and communication by external parties without my knowledge,” Msiza writes.
Msiza joined people like Brian Shivambu, brother of the EFF deputy-president Floyd Shivambu, in criticising the manner in which the report was used to “name and shame” people. Both Msiza and Shivambu indicated that they will pursue legal action and file defamation claims.
A question on the lips of many local taxpayers the past few months was: “How much did our municipalities lose?” The SARB report is not too clear on this. A list is published of the amounts owed to municipalities and, according to this list, the Makhado Municipality is owed R62 734 416. The “Limpopo Municipality”, which probably refers to the Collins Chabane Municipality, has invested R122 410 521. Interestingly enough the Vhembe District Municipality has a negative balance of R2 977, which effectively means the municipality owes VBS almost R3 000. Initially it was stated that Vhembe District Municipality invested R311 million in VBS.
The Vhavenda king, Toni Mphephu Ramabulana’s name features prominently in the report. Several companies linked to Ramabulana allegedly received deposits and/or overdraft facilities from VBS. These include Makuya (R1 million and R900 000), Mafunzwaini (R500 000 and R460 000), Dzata Trust (R9 million and R8,5 million) and the Vhavenda Heritage Trust (R1 million and R2 million). It was also testified that Ramabulana received an “investment” at VBS of R8 million.
Ramabulana’s spokesperson, advocate Makonde Mathivha. on Thursday in a radio interview said they have received the report and were still busy studying it. He said they will issue a statement after understanding the contents of the report.
The Vhembe District Municipality, whose mayor Cllr Florence Radzilani is implicated in the report, have not as yet come up with a position. “We have the report and we are studying it. As a municipality we are still going to sit down and hopefully we will come up with a position very soon,” said Mr Matodzi Ralushai, the municipality spokesperson.
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