South Africa - Pretoria - 15 April 2019 - UDM leader Bantu Holomisa after the lunch break at the Public Investment Corporation(PIC) Commission of Inquiry in Old Council Chambers, Sammy Marks Building, Pretoria. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
PRETORIA – United Democratic Movement leader General Bantu Holomisa yesterday insisted that the relationship between the directors of Lebashe Investment, Harish General Practitioners and Harith Fund Managers raised serious questions on the conflict of interest.

Holomisa told the Commission of Inquiry into alleged improprieties at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) that the relationship smacked of conflicted interest.

He said he would not be intimidated into silence by the vigorous cross-examination, particularly from advocate Danny Berger who was representing Lebashe.

The cross-examination was mostly a back-and-forth argument, which led to Berger taking offence at Holomisa’s utterances and asking Justice Lex Mpati to intervene.

Berger put it to Holomisa that no money from the PIC was used to form Lebashe, to which Holomisa initially responded by saying that the commission was the one that would be able to establish the veracity of this claim.

However, he conceded, after several exchanges, that no PIC funds were used. Holomisa had submitted to the commission that the role of Harith and Lebashe directors Tshepo Mahloele and former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi as former PIC “operatives”, appeared to have gone out to create an empire. “I hope that they will be given an opportunity to clarify these issues, but more importantly is to see that there seems to be a conflict of interest here,” he said. “Because later on they get monies from PIC as and when they want to extend their business.”

Holomisa said the key players in Lebashe were Mahloele, Moleketi and Warren Wheatley. Lebashe reportedly obtained a loan from the PIC for rapid expansion, with the said loan having reportedly already been repaid.

“This may raise questions regarding the basis for the PIC granting a loan to Lebashe when key former PIC individuals are controlling and owning Lebashe. How was this loan obtained and on what terms? Lebashe has gone on to acquire large shares in Capitec Bank, EOH and TSS Capital,” Holomisa said.

The value of the loan is unknown.

Holomisa also told the commission that the directors of Lebashe were part of Harith. “And they are sharing the same building. So all I am asking, here, is I am trying to develop a story that there is a conflict of interest somehow.

“Who is funding Lebashe? Is it funded through Harith? Have there been any transfers of monies from PIC to Harith and then to Lebashe?

Berger put it to Holomisa that there was no evidence that Lebashe was funded through Harith, to which he responded that that was the reason the commission existed. He said evidence that would be submitted by Berger’s clients would help clarify this.

The commission continues today.