AGIZA HLONGWANE, NATHI OLIFANT and AMANDA KHOZA
THE flamboyant son of a KwaZulu-Natal tribal chief, under investigation over a R56 million farming tender, has set tongues wagging with his wanton display of wealth, including his fleet of luxury cars, and for allegedly splurging more than R120 000 on a party.
At 26, Lungisani “Lulu Captain” Zondo – son of Inkosi Douglas Vusi Zondo of the Abaqulusi tribe in Vryheid – follows a jet-set lifestyle and boasts a fleet of cars that would put some company executive officers to shame.
The Sunday Tribune has established through sources close to Zondo that in addition to a BMW X3 – which he received as a 21st birthday present five years ago – he owns, among others, a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and Range Rover Sport, and recently took delivery of a brand-new Porsche Panamera.
But some of the vehicles, including a Toyota Hilux D4D double cab, are owned by the Zondo Family Trust.
Zondo can be seen on his personal Facebook page striking a pose next to the cars in photographs taken earlier this month.
But by late yesterday, Zondo’s photographs could no longer be publicly accessed.
Referring to the Porsche, one of Zondo’s online friends says: “Ungake ungiphe le omi eduze kwayo.” (How I wish you could give me the one you’re standing next to.)
According to a Companies and Intellectual Property Commission search, Zondo, a civil-engineering graduate from the Durban University of Technology, is listed as the active director of two companies, Blue Been Trading Enterprises 355 and Mthiya Brothers and Civil.
Despite the Tribune’s independent verification that the Rover and Mercedes-Benz were registered in his name, he denied that he owned any luxury cars.
A woman who lives near Zondo’s home in Bizley, Pietermaritzburg, said young Zondo was not shy to flaunt his family’s wealth.
“He buys his friends alcohol – Johnnie Walker Gold Label in most cases – and the bill can reach up to R20 000 in one evening.”
Another woman, from KwaCeza, in Vryheid, said: “They have a farm in Vryheid. His dad is loaded.”
The woman also said she was under the impression that the vehicles belonged to Zondo sr.
When asked about the source of his wealth and about his array of flashy cars, Zondo burst out laughing and said: “Ngiyazizamela mina (I’m only trying to make ends meet). I don’t have all those cars. I don’t have all these things you’re talking about.”
Asked to comment on the claim that he spent R120 000 at a nightclub in one night, Zondo said: “That’s lies. Maybe they’re confusing me with someone else.”
According to information from the Deeds Office, Zondo does not own any properties.
It could not be established by yesterday whether any properties are owned by the family trust.
Zondo said: “I only have one house in Glenmore – and it’s a small house.”
He requested that the story be dropped.
“Please don’t put any of that in the paper. You’re going to put me in trouble.
“I’m begging you – I’m humbling myself because I respect your job. I’m begging you not to put this in the paper.”
Zondo’s meteoric rise as a socialite – he can be seen in the music video for kwaito star L’vovo’s hit single Palesa – appears to co-incide with his father’s successes in the business world.
Inkosi Zondo is the subject of an ongoing probe by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into the awarding of a R56m contract to his company, Sokotshane Mthiya Construction and Civils CC, by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture in 2011.
The contract was for the delivery and incorporation of lime and fertiliser in the southern region of KZN.
According to minutes of a departmental adjudication committee, the approved project budget was R40m, but the tender was awarded for a substantially higher amount.
When approached for comment yesterday, Inkosi Zondo asked the Sunday Tribune to call him back, claiming to have bad cellphone reception.
Eventually, he failed to respond to text questions.
Madonsela’s spokeswoman, Kgalalelo Masibi, said she wanted to check with her office on the status of the investigation before commenting.