Minister Zweli Mkhize Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - MPs have urged Co-operative Governance Minister Zweli Mkhize to go after people implicated in the looting of the VBS Mutual Bank by attaching their assets to recover the lost billions.

Members of the portfolio committee on co-operative governance said on Tuesday that some of these people were living large, and owned luxury cars, helicopters and properties that needed to be seized.

This was after Mkhize had told MPs that they were launching a lawsuit against those implicated in the VBS scandal.

Municipalities had deposited more than R1.57billion at VBS, despite National Treasury warning them not to do so.

Portfolio committee chairperson Richard Mdakane said they wanted the minister to act against those who were behind the VBS heist.

He said there were luxury cars, a chopper and other luxury goods that were displayed in the public domain.

He described the heist as a scheme to rob the poor. “It is clear there is a parallel structure here. The scheme was a well-designed scheme to rob the poor.”

Mdakane added that Mkhize should seize these assets to recover the money.

Mkhize said they were acting against those responsible.

“We are moving beyond the point of exclamations about the fraud to a point where we start to act and pursue individuals and recover the money,” said Mkhize.

“I think these funds need to be pursued. It’s not possible for R1.5bn to disappear. It must be found in some account. I think we need to aggressively pursue this money,” he said. “Here we have a case of the greedy robbing the poor. That is how we can classify it.”

The DA’s Kevin Mileham said the municipalities had flouted the Municipal Finance Management Act by depositing their conditional grants at VBS.

Xolani Ngwezi, of the IFP, said it was clear that the municipalities had deliberately defied the National Treasury after it warned them not to deposit funds with the bank.

He said every cent had to be recovered from those who had stolen the money.

Ngwezi added it was not possible that R2bn could just disappear from VBS. He said there were municipalities which were now battling to survive because of this crisis.

This was echoed by the National Freedom Party’s Nhlanhla Khubisa, who said R2bn was a lot of money, and it could not simply disappear.

“It seems there is work that is in progress already. Monies have to be recovered some of these municipalities were warned, but they ignored all of that,” said Khubisa.

Political Bureau