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Johannesburg - Controversial businessman Roux Shabangu was allegedly given a R6 million helicopter and R4m in cash as kickbacks for fronting for a white firm.
The allegation is contained in court papers in the Pretoria High Court in which the national Department of Public Works is asking the court to nullify its lease agreement with Shabangu.
The agreement of nine years and seven months relates to a building in the Pretoria CBD, 114 Vermeulen Street, where Public Works was securing office space and parking for the Department of Human Settlements. The department argues in court papers that Shabangu led it to believe that the building belonged to him.
A Special Investigating Unit (SIU) forensic report, showing that the department made numerous monthly rent payment of R729 000 to Shabangu’s company Majestic Silver, accompanies the court papers.
The department alleges that Shabangu would then transfer the money to HKML – a 100 percent white-owned company.
The payments were made from August 2009 until July 2010, when Shabangu resigned as director of Majestic Silver.
The SIU report appears to indicate that Shabangu had personally benefited from the alleged fraudulent deal.
The investigating unit and the department claim that Shabangu – for his role in securing the lease – was given a helicopter worth R4 850 000. They also allege in the papers that Shabangu’s funders paid R993 421 interest on the helicopter A further amount of R350 000 VAT was paid on the helicopter.
A breakdown of the payments in the documents purports to show a first cash payment of R2.7m paid into Shabangu’s personal account on January 23, 2009. The second payment of R1.2m was made on February 26, 2009.
A third payment of R481 510.77 was made on March 12, 2009, according to the court papers. In total, Shabangu obtained R10 574 932.31.
The SIU report seems to indicate that Shabangu has a helicopter registered in the name of the Roux Shabangu Family Trust.
Shabangu dismissed the allegations on Tuesday. He said neither the SIU nor the department had contacted him in connection with the damning allegations.
He was also not aware of the court case against him.
“I do not want to comment on what was contained in those court documents. They claimed that I was bought a helicopter in 2009. The people who are making those allegations never came to me to verify their facts.
“I bought this helicopter in 2007. The SIU and the department conducted a hostile investigation against me.”
He became involved in the Vermeulen Street deal after another black businessman known to The Star failed to secure a bank loan to purchase the building. Two senior officials in the department advised him “to step into the shoes of the businessman”.
“It was on those basis that I became involved in the deal, along with Japie van Niekerk. Japie was my partner for many years,” said Shabangu.
The department’s court papers, however, contradict his version substantially.
Public Works acting director-general Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie said Shabangu colluded with one of their senior officials to clinch the lease agreement. She said Mokgaetji Tlolane, a deputy director in the department, claimed that Shabangu was the sole owner of the City Forum building in 114 Vermeulen Street and that the company was therefore BEE-compliant.
Fatyela-Lindie, in her submission, said the deal was finalised on April 14, 2009 and that the building belonged to HKML. She also said Shabangu was never invited to provide office space and parking.
In her submission, Fatyela-Lindie added that the tender was closed after the department failed to find a suitable BEE company.
“The department had not authorised any of its employees to hold discussions with and/or to have negotiations with Majestic Silver Trading regarding the property at 114 Vermeulen or any other property,” Fatyela-Lindie said.
She said the fact that Shabangu had a white partner (Van Niekerk), disqualified him.
“It is important to note that the conclusion of the lease agreement is not only a function of a company being a BEE company, but that it is also a function of such a company owning the property being considered for a lease,” Fatyela-Lindie said in court papers.
Van Niekerk’s lawyer, Marius van Huysteen, failed to respond to the allegations against him.
Tlolane’s lawyer, Christo van der Walt, said she was not aware her name was cited in the matter between Public Works and Silver Majestic.
Van der Walt, however, said his client was found not guilty on similar allegations at an internal hearing.
Shabangu also dismissed the submission of collusion between him and Tlolane.
Department law adviser Phillip Masilo said the department had also laid criminal charges against Shabangu and Van Niekerk. He said the matter was expected to be referred to the Commercial Crimes Court.