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‘Mayor of Zumaville’ in hot water

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zuma and cousin

Independent Newspapers

President Jacob Zuma at the wedding of his cousin, Sibusiso Mzobe, centre, in Eshowe. The wedding was attended by 8 000 guests. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Durban - Two weeks ago, President Jacob Zuma’s cousin, Sibusiso “Deebo” Mzobe, married his young bride at a traditional wedding reportedly attended by 8 000 guests, including Zuma.

On Tuesday, his construction company, Deebo Holdings CC, was put into liquidation following an application in the Durban High Court by one of his subcontractors which complained that it was owed R7 million for a low-cost housing contract for which it has never been paid.

Mzobe, who is also known as the “mayor of Zumaville” because he is in charge of developing Zuma’s home town of Nkandla, initially opposed the application brought by Rubro Building.

But on Tuesday, when the matter was called before Judge Themba Sishi, there was no one there to represent him and the final liquidation order was granted. This now means that a liquidator will be appointed to probe the financial affairs of Deebo Holdings and investigate what happened to the money, which was apparently paid to Deebo by the contracting local authority.

Rubro brought the application in February, complaining that in spite of several letters of demand, Deebo had not paid up.

Rubro managing director Charl Roux said in an affidavit that Deebo had been awarded a contract by the Mkhondo municipality in Mpumalanga province to build 400 houses.

It had subcontracted the work to Rubro for R50 000 a house, excluding R4 000 a house for geotechnical work. Roux said it had been agreed that Rubro would submit certificates to Deebo, which would then submit a claim to the municipality. Once money was received, Deebo was to pay Rubro within seven days.

Roux said he had “experienced difficulties” being paid throughout the contract and so he’d approached directors of Stedone Construction - of which Deebo was a subsidiary.

“I was told that Mkhondo had made payments and the money was ‘in a big pot’ to be paid to various contractors,” said Roux.

A letter of demand sent in November had elicited a response from a lawyer “denying any guarantees by Stedone” and saying that Deebo was having “serious financial difficulties”.

In court papers last year, in an application against Zuma’s son, Edward, involving the R1.5m he owed to his wedding planner, documents were put up purportedly showing that Deebo Holdings owed Edward R28.8m.

Judgment was subsequently taken against Edward - recently named as a stakeholder in Easyjet, a new airline to fly in South Africa - but he has still not paid the full amount he owes and a sequestration application is pending against him in the Durban High Court.

Mzobe made news last year as the deputy chairman of the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative, which is driving a R2 billion upgrade of Nkandla. His wedding in Mbongolwane, on his 43rd birthday to 22-year-old Philile Shangase, was attended by Zuma.

In an interview with City Press last year, he said he believed in polygamy and intended to marry all three of his fiancées this year.

tania.broughton@inl.co.za

The Mercury


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