130710 Aurora Boss Khulubuse Zuma at the press conference held in Melrose Arch.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 8

AFTER MONTHS of lying low, businessman Khulubuse Zuma painted the town red, apparently taking out cash from his bottomless briefcase to treat 25 guests to an unforgettable Mandela Day party.

Two independent sources confirmed that Khulubuse, President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, racked up a bill “as long as a huge grocery list” and paid at least R13 500 at Luna Rossa lounge and cocktail bar in uMhlanga’s Gateway mall.

Some guests said Khulubuse even got a lap dance from his partner before dancing himself and going around introducing himself to women, calling them “baby”.

“He had a suitcase, a small brown one, filled with cash. About R40 000 or so, because he kept signaling a four in the air (with his fingers) while holding the cash,” said a guest who asked not to be named.

Zuma has confirmed he was at the venue on Wednesday night, but denied that he spent a large sum – or that he was drawing money from a bursting treasure trove.

He laughed off the claims of the expensive party. “That is rubbish, maybe they said that because I was seen there. I only spent money on one person. There was no ridiculous amount of money spent.”

He said he was at the cocktail bar for a business meeting, but would not say who he was meeting. “I was there for a meeting, and then we watched Manchester United and AmaZulu FC, which was screened there, and then I went home. I cannot tell you who I was meeting, that’s private.”

Zuma would not comment on his legal troubles, but said those who criticised his lavish lifestyle were wrong this time. “People will always criticise what I do, I am just shocked at these claims.”

He brushed off questions about the brown suitcase filled with money to the tune of R40 000. “People are just talking rubbish.”

The Sunday Independent has been reliably informed that the restaurant usually closes at 10pm on weekdays, but on Thursday closed at 5am, only once Zuma had left.

A guest who was at the party said: “We arrived at Luna after midnight. Khula… was smoking a cigar and was offered Johnny Walker Gold and there was a tab at the restaurant. He kept introducing himself as Khulubuse Zuma.

“I think the place was reserved for the 25 people there. We had no clue who he was initially, but because he was going around continuously saying: ‘Ika Zuma la ungathola noma yini’ (This is Zuma terrain, you can get anything you want), we gathered he was a Zuma.

“He was drinking whisky. There was lots of expensive alcohol…

His bill slip was as long as if he was buying a month’s groceries. He was with a petite female… who kept giving him a lap dance. He was calling every girl ‘baby’.”

Enquiries at Luna Rossa were met with a hostile reaction, with one manager, known only as Vee, saying: “Don’t come here with your bulls*** stories. He was here and I know what you are going to ask me next is how much he spent here.

“I’ve read all the stories about him and I am not telling you anything. Our customers come here to relax and I am not going to disclose anything to you.”

Another manager, who would not give his name, then called and made threats to reporters. “Don’t come question my staff, you are not welcome here. I don’t give a damn if you are doing your job, do your job properly but don’t come compromise my job.

“Is it any of your business what our customers do here?” he asked, before hanging up.

In July 2010 Zuma was roundly criticised for splurging at least R71 000 on expensive liquor during a jaunt for close friends in Durban while 4 000 miners he employs at his Aurora and Grootvlei mines had not been paid for four months.

In April, three luxury cars and various household goods belonging to Zuma were auctioned off to pay R10 million owed to Protea Coin Security.

The National Union of Mineworkers of SA expressed disappointment at news of Zuma’s big jaunt. Num spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said about 2 000 miners were still owed about R12m.

“Also, a lot of creditors are still owed money. It’s a little complicated… the creditors have taken over operations to try and put the mines back into the market.”

Seshoka said it was not surprising to hear of Zuma’s high living. “It’s been happening. We’ve seen him buy expensive cars when he owes money to the workers. For him it would have been good to first pay the workers, before spending his money.

“We’re disappointed in the manner in which so-called BEE (black economic empowerment) has now produced people of his calibre who can go on to party while those who make money for them are suffering.”