The life of Zunaid Moti
By Anel Lewis
Fast cars, quick property deals and now an early morning house robbery that appears to have been executed with military accuracy and speed.
That is the life of Zunaid Moti, a car-loving businessman with links to several property deals, including the controversial transfer of 33 tracts of prime land owned by the City of Johannesburg.
But who is this 36-year-old, known for his smart attire and driving even smarter cars, usually a Lamborghini or a Lexus?
He comes from Mokopane, where his father ran a general dealership. But it was during his time at St Albans College in Pretoria that Moti reportedly developed his love for fancy cars.
Coveting the cars that the parents of his wealthier friends could afford to drive, he started FutureFin, which provided finance for people wanting to buy high-end luxury cars.
Several years later and Moti has about 204 listed enterprises, according to the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office. Among these is the diversified Abalengani group, which has subsidiary companies involved in property, consulting, jewellery and mining. But Abalengani does not have a clean financial track record, and the company has made headlines for its bad debt.
At the end of 2009, Abalengani reached a settlement with Investec for about R1,5-billion that was owed to the bank. A deal to restructure the debt was reached.
The Abalengani property groups focus on land ownership, creating an opportunity for development companies and investors to buy land in prime areas. It also forms joint ventures with developers and investors on commercial property options, mainly in Sandton.
But a property deal with Eildoug Investments, for several prime tracts of land, turned sour for the group when The Star revealed in May that the properties were illegally transferred from the City of Johannesburg without the consent of the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC).
Eildoug Investments sold the land to various companies, including Zamien Investments and Zambrotti Investments. Moti was a former director of both companies and is one of the financiers.
The two companies bought 25 of the properties from Eildoug in a multi-million rand deal. The properties included land zoned for parks and recreation, such as a section of the Norscot Koppies and Kingfisher Nature Reserve.
Moti and the director of Zamien Investments, Salim Bobat, told The Star then that they were not aware of how Eildoug had obtained the properties.
It was understood that proper process had been followed. The companies have opposed an application by the JPC to have the properties returned to the council and referred the matter to the Commercial Crimes Unit.
One of Moti's other companies, 85 Grayston Drive Developments, was provisionally liquidated by the Grahamstown High Court last year, after the company failed to repay an R8,8-million deposit that had been paid for the development of a project that never got off the ground.
The company was saved when Moti was able to broker an out-of-court agreement regarding the debt.
Moti has also been involved in the development of the luxury Nondela Drakensberg Estate, estimated to cost R1bn.