Bantu Holomisa recalls bribery allegation against late hotel tycoon Sol Kerzner
Durban - United Democratic Movement leader General Bantu Holomisa has recalled a bribery allegation that seemingly haunted late hotel tycoon Sol Kerzner throughout his life.
Kerzner, who established the Southern Sun Hotel Group and Sun International, died aged 84 at the weekend at his family home in Cape Town.
The allegation against him first surfaced in the late 1980s when he was accused of paying a bribe to former Transkei leader chief George Matanzima for an exclusive gambling licence.
When Matazima was later overthrown by Holomisa - the leader of the then-Transkei army - an extradition request was made with an intention to bring Kerzner to justice but he was eventually let off the hook following the refusal by the homeland’s attorney general to prosecute him, citing lack of evidence after one of the state witnesses had died.
However, on the global stage, the allegation followed Kerzner for several years. A well-documented instance was a 2003 bid to turn the Millennium Dome in London into Las Vegas-style casino. The matter popped again and Kerzner was investigated.The investigation was widely covered by British newspaper The Guardian, which reported that “British authorities have launched an in-depth probe into his business background that will focus on allegations that he bribed a corrupt African minister during the dark days of apartheid”.
Recounting the history of the bribery allegation yesterday, Holomisa in an interview with Independent Media revealed that gambling authorities from three different jurisdictions came to see him about the corruption allegation.
Holomisa could not remember all three of them except that one was from a US state.
A response given by the spokesperson of the Kerzner family, Ian Douglas, yesterday indicated that the state in question was New Jersey, as Kerzner wanted to open a casino there. Douglas said the allegations were factually incorrect then and remained so.
He added that in considering their veracity, it was worth noting that Kerzner went on to be licensed as a casino operator in many legal jurisdictions around the world, including in the UK and Atlantic City in the US.
Tributes continue to pour in for him.