Thulani Khoza speaks about his T-Touch cellphone in May 2016. File picture: Simone Kley/Independent Media
Johannesburg - The high-flying entrepreneur exposed two years ago for duping investors to finance his “SA’s first Smartphone” scam is now being investigated for fraud in the Eastern Cape.

Ekurhuleni-raised Thulani Khoza has re-emerged in the Eastern Cape, where he is believed to have posed as a foreign-exchange (forex) trader and defrauded a Graaff-Reinet couple of a R30000 investment in his scheme.

This amount excludes thousands they spent on Khoza’s business travels, accommodation and sourcing equipment for a construction business the trio were setting up.

Graaff-Reinet police spokesperson Norman Holtzhausen told The Star that a case of fraud had been opened against Khoza. “The investigating officer received the docket and the matter is currently under investigation,” he said.

Businesswoman Thandile Jacobs said she met Khoza last year through a WhatsApp group of business owners in the Eastern Cape. Khoza allegedly proposed she join his forex trading venture, with a promise of her R30000 investment generating a R2.3 million return after six months.

Within weeks, Khoza invited Jacobs to invest in a R450m deal. This would require her construction company, as a subcontractor, to hire 30 workers across five provinces to dig trenches for the installation of fibre-optic cables on behalf of a telecommunications company.

The Star has seen the fraudulent agreement document between Khoza’s company and the telecommunication company, which states the subcontractor would initially get a minimum of R10m to source materials from suppliers.

Jacobs said Khoza would come to her house to prepare and set up logistics for the tender. “He has been to my house at least three times and, on those occasions, he made us travel to different towns to get quotes for vehicles and other machinery.We took him to dealerships in Queenstown, East London, Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred to look at office space. We spent a lot of money on B&Bs and hotels and we even travelled with him to Cape Town to meet someone he called his business associate,” said Jacobs.

She became suspicious when Khoza could not transport some of the machinery from Joburg to the Eastern Cape. He started making excuses about returning the R30000 she had invested in his forex trading venture. He is alleged to have also failed to return R2500 that Jacobs had given to him to buy sandals for a shoe business she had started in her hometown.

The Star has seen a Whats- App exchange in which Khoza threatens to take Jacobs to court if she tarnishes his name. Khoza did not want to comment when The Star called him last week, nor did he want to confirm knowledge of Jacobs despite having her husband’s photo on his Facebook page.

He asked to be called after 30 minutes, but his cellphone rang unanswered when he was called again.

Khoza made the news in 2016 when he claimed he would make the first South African-produced smartphone through his company Thules Communications.

This was followed by several TV, radio and newspaper interviews which elevated his profile. He also started dabbling in motivational talking where he would inspire students and entrepreneurs.

However, in December 2016, this reporter exposed Khoza for being a fake entrepreneur who owed money to many people who had invested in his cellphone product, which never materialised. It also emerged he had lied about graduating with a BSc degree from Wits University in 2006, or with an MBA from Harvard in the US in 2014 as stated in his résumé.

Thules Communications was, in fact, registered under his then girlfriend's name. Khoza did not own any legitimate business and possessed an invalid ID.

Following these revelations, the Department of Social Development stripped him of the SA Man of the Year award that he won for science and technology in 2016.

The Star