Wanted man's R500m ANC deal
Nov 14, 2010 12:00 AM
By Subashni Naidoo & Suthetira Govender
Nelson Mandela's fugitive son-in-law has landed a R500-million coalmining deal with the ANC's investment front, Chancellor House - which already benefits from Eskom's massive R385-billion expansion programme.
Isaac Kwame Amuah, who is wanted on rape and assault charges in Hartford, Connecticut, has evaded US law enforcement authorities for 17 years.
This week the Sunday Times can reveal that one of his companies, ORS Holdings, is central in a consortium that bought a coal mine in Swaziland from mining giant Xstrata Alloys, in a R500-million deal.
Chancellor House is also a member of the consortium, which plans to supply coal to several power plants - placing the ANC as a major player in Eskom's R485-billion expansion programme to meet rising demand for electricity.
In a previous, controversial deal, Chancellor House invested in Hitachi Power Africa, which won a R38.5-billion contract to supply boilers for Eskom's two new coal-fired power stations.
Opposition parties this week said Amuah's political connections and business dealings with the ANC had managed to keep him from being arrested and extradited to the US.
US authorities have issued an extradition request through the country' s embassy in Pretoria. The SA Police Service is aware of the warrant.
Last week the Sunday Times revealed that ORS Holdings had invested more than R5-million in two local movies, Leon Schuster's Shucks Tshabalala and The Bang Bang Club.
The closely guarded sale of the Maloma Colliery - no details of the transaction were released when it was finalised - was concluded just two days before the World Bank announced it had granted electricity parastatal Eskom a R29-billion loan to build local power stations.
The sale was approved by Swaziland's Minerals Managing Board on April 6.
The bulk of the World Bank loan is reportedly to finance the development of the Medupi coal-fired power station in Limpopo.
According to Eskom's current financial report, it procures about R20-billion worth of coal and water every year.
Xstrata Alloys reportedly sold its 75% shareholding in Maloma - whose value was estimated at R500-million in transaction papers - for only R25-million, in a deal that would see the consortium taking over the mine's debt and rehabilitation costs.
Chancellor House's finance director, Sibusiso Mngomezulu, declined to comment.
Its managing director, Mamatho Netsianda, said: "I don't have anything to talk to you about. I don't care ... I'm saying I don't care."
Amuah's lawyer, Advocate James Comey, said: "If the Sunday Times is interested in ORS, the company will be glad to extend to it a special invitation to attend its annual general meeting when convened."
ANC spokesman Brian Sokutu declined to comment, saying: "We have taken a position as the ANC that we will not comment on any business dealings that have to do with Chancellor House."
The DA's shadow deputy minister of energy, David Ross, said the opposition party had argued previously that it was "entirely inappropriate for the ANC to be benefiting from the national energy crisis".
Documents in the possession of the Sunday Times provide details of the consortium's shareholders and how the sale of the mine was structured.
In a letter to Xstrata's Richard Ward, dated September 30 2010, Mngomezulu says: "(We are) excited about this opportunity as we envisage a substantial trajectory in coal usage on the horizon."
Describing coal as a "strategic investment" for Chancellor House, he says: "It is conceivable that a power plant supply unit may use some of the (mine's) lower-grade coal".
He added: "It is worthy to note that both Chancellor House Holdings and Nehawu also own a variety of coal projects in South Africa."
Maloma Colliery has a mining lease which is valid until 2014; it contains about 10.5-million tons of reserves which can be mined within the remaining period of the lease.
Yesterday, Eskom spokesman Dikatso Mametse said the parastatal had not concluded any contracts with coal suppliers in Swaziland.
A report by Swaziland's National Energy Policy Project, a government-funded initiative, states that coal produced by Maloma Colliery is exported to South Africa - but does not specify to whom it is sold.
The contract for the purchase of the mine stated that ORS Holdings would be among the companies in the consortium to negotiate funding from the banks and other investors.
Xstrata spokesman Songezo Zibi said the mine had been sold because it wanted to focus primarily on producing ferrochrome.
Independent Democrats leader Patricia De Lille said it was "disgusting" that Amuah could be protected because of his political connections and business deals with the ANC.
"It's totally unacceptable when we are trying to build a country to respect the rule of law that the (people) involved in a deal are overlooking the allegations surrounding him."
Amuah, who is also a director of several companies, including Invictus Telkoms, ORS Human Capital and Arengo Exploration, has dozens of deals in the pipeline.
One company, Orialle Holdings, which lists his wife, Makaziwe Mandela, among its shareholders, has limestone mining rights in Polokwane, Limpopo.
» » » » [TimesLive]
The shocking truth about 'Doctor' Phil
Axed Land Bank boss failed matric and lied about his PhD
Nov 14, 2010 12:00 AM
By Stephan Hofstatter & Mzilikazi wa Afrika
Axed Land Bank boss Phil Mohlahlane failed matric and used fake qualifications - including a doctorate - to land a string of top government jobs and rake in millions in earnings.
The Sunday Times can today reveal that Mohlahlane, 55, failed his matric exams in 1974.
In addition, the "doctor" has two bogus qualifications from American universities, according to an investigation by auditing firm Ernst & Young.
Mohlahlane's fake academic record was uncovered in a probe by the Limpopo government.
Until last month the controversial civil servant was the chief executive officer of the state-owned Limpopo Agricultural Development Corporation on a salary of R1.4-million a year.
In a letter seen by the Sunday Times, and sent to Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale, the province's agriculture MEC, Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, says: "Preliminary investigations which have been conducted thus far confirm that Dr Mohlahlane does not have all the qualifications which he alleged to have acquired as per his application."
This includes confirmation from the Department of Education that he failed matric.
Ernst & Young was also tasked with verifying his foreign qualifications. They included a master's degree in agricultural economics from Tuskegee University and a doctorate of jurisprudence from the Jones School of Law at Faulkner University. Both institutions are located in Alabama in the United States.
"The (Ernst & Young) report also confirms that he does not have those qualifications," Letsatsi-Duba's letter states.
Shockingly, Mohlahlane's dubious qualifications were never uncovered although he headed several government departments and parastatals, including the Land Bank, which alone has a budget of billions of rands.
Neither Mohlahlane - who also headed the agriculture departments in the Free State and Limpopo - nor his lawyer, Elias Mashola, returned phone calls and SMSes this week.
The Sunday Times previously revealed how Mohlahlane used taxpayers' money while at the Land Bank to enrich his family and friends.
He has never been criminally charged for the alleged offences despite a lengthy investigation by the Hawks. He could also face arrest for using fake credentials: in his latest job he is accused of many irregularities including flouting procurement rules by buying new furniture for his office.
Kenny Mathivha, the spokesman for Letsatsi-Duba, confirmed on Friday that Mohlahlane's appointment was terminated after he failed to disclose he hadn't passed matric in 1974.
He also did not reveal that he had been fired from the Department of Agriculture for financial mismanagement while acting CEO of the Land Bank, where he earned R1.6-million a year.
The former department store assistant from Pretoria, meanwhile, scored an F grade for Afrikaans, two E grades for South Sotho and English, two G grades for biology and geography and an H for history, according to his matric results, which have been verified by the Department of Education.
"The candidate failed the Senior Certificate examination," it concludes.
Mathivha confirmed the degrees were bogus, saying: "The MEC believes by getting rid of the so-called doctor we are sending a strong message in government that we will not tolerate any form of corruption and fraud."
He said the matter had been handed to the "law enforcement agencies who we believe will effect an arrest soon".
Mohlahlane's woes, it would seem, are just beginning. The Sunday Times has learnt that key witnesses related to the looting of the R100-million AgriBEE fund that Mohlahlane controlled have recently been questioned as part of an investigation by the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit.
The AgriBEE fund was set up to support emerging farmers. Grants were disbursed for approved projects from a special account in the Land Bank.
Mohlahlane headed the approvals committee and the bank during the time the irregular payments were made.
Documents detail how Mohlahlane used the fund to buy himself a luxury house, for cash, in Johannesburg. He also bought a luxury car and another house for an associate.
» » » » [TimesLive]
The man who dares SA to question his millions
Kunene's rags to riches rise from jail to hosting R700 000 birthday extravaganza
Nov 14, 2010 12:00 AM
By Bongani Mdakane & Rowan Philp
He dares South Africans to find fault with his millions and his partying excess.
A month after drawing public fury for his R700 000 birthday party, former gangster Kenny Kunene has ordered a yellow Lamborghini valued at around R1.5-million, and is shopping for a helicopter.
He has deliberately parked one of his four sports cars next to the BMW of his partner and fellow ex-convict, Gayton McKenzie, so that their personalised number plates read "X Con" - "So what".
Previously he spent R800 000 on a party in his Free State home town of Odendaalsrus to thank friends and ancestors. He arrived in a helicopter for the traditional slaughtering of a cow.
Just four years ago, Kunene says he had less than R10 000 in assets; had to hitch-hike to meetings, and sometimes slept in McKenzie's car.
Now, he is part-owner of a mining and entertainment empire and has partied with celebrities like John Legend and Arsene Wenger.
While Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi has called him a "hyena" who "spits in the face of the poor", Kunene claims to be a "new generation role model" for South Africa's poorest youth.
In an interview which he reluctantly granted to the Sunday Times, Kunene, 40, acknowledged that public speculation and suspicion was rife about how he had jumped from poverty to riches in just four years - he was released from jail in 2003.
"The reason why everybody is questioning my income is maybe they have limited knowledge of the business world," he said. "Or they are lazy - they like salaries, and to bask in the sun, and people must come and say 'there is a tender'."
Born in Kutlwanong township and raised by his grandparents and unemployed mother, Kunene now lives in a plush Sandton apartment, while his wife and son live in Odendaalsrus.
He was jailed at Grootvlei Prison in the Free State for six years for fraud in 1997 - having spent four years awaiting trial.
Here he risked his life to expose gross corruption and abuse at the Jali Commission.
He said he plotted his rise to riches here while literally on his knees, clipping the toenails and callouses from the feet of a prison warder.
However, this week Kunene revealed additional details of his criminal history, when he committed sometimes violent crimes for a gang while working as a Klerksdorp teacher.
In what he describes as "the worst thing I ever did", Kunene said that - enraged that a fellow gang member had heightened their risk of arrest - he shot a gang colleague in the thigh as they left the scene of a robbery.
Kunene admitted that he tried to sell ivory illegally in Pretoria in 1995 - and that he had grabbed a tourist around the neck to shield himself from police guns aimed at him before his arrest. This case was later dropped.
"We used to get involved in fraud, car theft, robberies," he said. "Now when we do our talks to kids and schools, we say: 'When we were criminals we couldn't enjoy our cars; we couldn't drive them in the daylight'."
Under threat to his life from prisoners and corrupt warders, Kunene said he had once carried a teapot spiked with rat poison to a whole panel of Jali Commission advocates, including Jerome Brauns, SC, who later defended President Jacob Zuma - but then warned them not to drink it.
"The 50 metres I walked with that kettle was the longest of my life. And the decision I made to warn Advocate Brauns was the best of my life."
For his success, Kunene credits McKenzie; ANC empowerment policies "beyond tenders"; "foreign investors", and the teaching and support of their two "mentors" - mine boss and philanthropist Greg James, and telecommunications tycoon Gavin Varejes.
He said McKenzie found him counselling troubled pupils at Calculus secondary school in Bloemfontein, at a salary of R3000 a month in 2006, and proposed they join forces to sell McKenzie's book, The Choice, to schools.
"We went everywhere; sometimes we'd sleep in the car - Gayton's M3 - when we could not (afford) a hotel," he said.
Kunene said that - inspired by the book's anti-crime message - James bought 80 000 copies of two versions of the book in June 2007 to give to Western Cape schools, providing them with the money to start "a small mine consultancy business".
Kunene and McKenzie were later appointed senior managers at Central Rand Gold - where James was CEO - in charge of dealing with the Soweto community affected by the proposed mining.
Kunene said he had since become co-owner of "about three, four businesses", including a new mining venture "elsewhere in Africa" which he said could grow to be worth R700-million.
"Our mentors - Greg and Gavin - have taught us to diversify: We have been made by white people - we are not ashamed to say that - because they celebrate when you turn your life around."
Mariette Lifferink - the former spokesman for the Soweto community affected by the CRG mine - submitted formal complaints to the government and the Legal Resource Centre last year, alleging that Kunene had broken promises to the community, and had "advocated hatred against me".
Kunene denies the claims.
Despite the criticism, hundreds of Kunene's 806 friends on Facebook are teenagers and students, who have written messages in support of his lavish lifestyle.
» » » » [TimesLive]