A picture of a sports car on Khosi Madzonga's Instagram. Photo: Supplied
A picture of a sports car on Khosi Madzonga's Instagram. Photo: Supplied

THE SHAKE-UP: Flaunting your wealth is okay, but only when acquired cleanly

By Sechaba ka' Nkosi Time of article published Oct 17, 2018

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JOHANNESBURG – Khosi Madzonga had it all: a helicopter, ski jaunts in Alaska, fleets of flashy cars and homes in some of the country’s most sought-after addresses.

So good did the young woman feel about her fortunes that she thought it extremely unfair to confine them to herself. She generously shared the joy with the world, posting endless images of herself and her possessions on social media.

Khosi was to South Africa what Zamira Hajiyeva was to the UK.

When Zamira - the wife of jailed former Bank of Azerbaijan chief Jahangir Hajiyev - was blowing a staggering £16million (about R303m) at Harrods and flying in a £32m private jet, Khosi was marvelling at her favourite toys, which included a helicopter, Lamborghini and a Rolls-Royce, to name but a few.

And when the very people she was showing off to questioned how she could have managed to amass such wealth at her age she told them to go and boil their heads.

As far as I know, there is no law in South Africa that prevents people from showcasing their luxuries. South Africa is as much a capitalist state replete with such displays as the oligarchs of the former Soviet Union, who exhibited their wares for all the world to see.

Except that in Khosi’s case, the windfall could probably be linked to what Advocate Terry Motau called the “The Great Bank Heist” .

In his scathing report on the collapse of the VBS Mutual Bank, Motau listed more than 50 individuals and companies who siphoned about R1.9bn in large amounts from the bank.

Among the people identified was Khosi’s husband, Robert Madzonga - a one-time VBS chief operations officer and executive director of the bank’s biggest shareholder, Vele Investments.

VBS lent R136m to Vele, a company in which former chairperson, Tshifhiwa Matodzi Madzonga, had an undeclared interest.

In a complex financial transaction, Vele subsequently became VBS’s main shareholder on the basis of a fictitious deposit.

Motau said Madzonga allegedly pocketed a cool R30.3m from deposits that the humble rural folks invested in the bank that was founded on a mission to help the poor in the former Venda bantustan.

It was a bitter case of Robin Hood turning against the poor to feed the super rich in one of the poorest and most corrupt provinces in the country.

The province traces its misfortunes to the times when EFF leader Julius Malema still led the ANC Youth League.

Motau detailed how politicians, facilitators and traditional leaders benefited from the looting.

While the gogos cried over their money, Madzonga looked us straight in the eye and asked us to spare a thought for his losses as well.

Madzonga said he put R18m of his own money into VBS when he saw that the bank was facing collapse.

Devoid of shame

He told the national broadcaster with a face that was devoid of any shame that, at best, he would only recoup R700 of his investment in VBS.

He said the fact that he was once an executive of a company that received countless loans from VBS should not make him an accomplice in the looting spree.

Never mind that Judge Moroa Tsoka branded him a greedy liar when he tried to oppose an application to sequestrate him last month, long before Motau’s report became public.

According to him, he is as much a victim of the loot as thousands of the Venda elderly folks who invested all their worldly possessions, pensions and lives in what we now know is a failed bank.

Such corporate insensitivity has been personified by Markus Jooste, who equally told Parliament with a straight face that the collapse of international retail giant Steinhoff last year could not be blamed on him.

Days later, reports emerged that he had told some shareholders to sell off their shares just hours before Steinhoff was caught in an accounting scandal that saw it falling 90percent in value on the JSE last December and wiping more than R200bn off its market capitalisation.

The fall of Steinhoff also affected millions of civil servants who were invested in the retailer through government pension funds.

Madzonga is also the man who once told us that his wealth and taste for cars predated his involvement with the bank.

He boasted that he was among the first blacks to own Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

To be fair to Madzonga, he and his fellow beneficiaries of the collapsed black bank owe us no explanation about their instant wealth.

Some of them were already established before the looting season began.

But they do at least have a responsibility to tell us how their wealth was acquired in the face of the VBS fallout.

On Monday, Vhavenda King Toni Mphephu-Ramabulana said he was willing to pay back any money he received from VBS if it was proved to be the proceeds of illegal activities.

That is commendable but not enough. Ignorance has never been an excuse for culpability.

There are hopes Madzonga will follow in the footsteps of Hahiyeva’s husband, Jahangir, who is serving a 15-year jail term for embezzlement in his native country of Azerbaijan.

It will not be easy. If Madzonga’s attitude is anything to go by, all those implicated will launch a concerted effort to stay out of jail.

These are no small-time fraudsters. They will flag conspiracy theories and will hire the best legal minds in the country to vilify Motau’s findings.

As the EFF did yesterday, they will also challenge the very legitimacy and mandate of the Reserve Bank as we know it.

They will amplify the ongoing noises about the nationalisation of the bank. So a successful prosecution will not only give closure to millions who lost their worth in this brazen bank heist, it will show that we are not a feudal state like Swaziland, and that even fairy tales like the one that Khosi lives do not always have happy endings.


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