ANC’s R1m for South African Tamil Federation is ‘missing’
Community news / 17 January 2020, 09:32am / Charlene Somduth and Janine Moodley
Durban - Almost R1 million that was allegedly meant for the South African Tamil Federation has gone missing.
The source of the money goes back to 2004 when an American company, Thintana Communications, sold its 15% stake in Telkom. At the time, the deal was worth about R9 billion.
The shares were bought by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). Some of these shares were later sold to the Elephant Consortium.
At the time, the deal was criticised as a get-rich-quick scheme for the politically connected. The main role-players were Andile Ngcaba, a former director-general of communications and Smuts Ngonyama, a former national spokesperson for the ANC.
Ngonyama reportedly made about R160m on the deal. He defended it with the now famous quote, “I did not join the struggle to be poor”.
According to sources, organisations that had assisted the ANC were awarded shares.
In KwaZulu-Natal it included the Minara Chamber of Business and the South African Tamil Federation (SATF). A few years later when the shares matured, they were worth just more than R900 000 each.
Sources told the POST that Nirode Bramdaw, who was then working for the ANC to garner votes in the Indian community, facilitated the transaction.
It is believed the transfer of the money was handled by a Joburg-based accounting firm.
Moosa Jeena, a chartered accountant who handled the transaction, said he remembered money was given to certain organisations, including the SATF.
He confirmed Bramdaw had been handling the KZN allocations but he could not recall the exact amounts that were distributed.
He could also not recall if the money was paid directly to the SATF or to an entity linked to the organisation.
“It was a special BEE transaction. We dealt with Nirode as he was the KZN representative.
“He gave us the banking details of those organisations that were allocated monies and we did the transactions accordingly. I remember the Tamil federation being paid. There was only one organisation that was not paid. It was a small political women’s organisation.”
Bramdaw confirmed he had worked for the ANC and was asked to recommend organisations for a broad-based empowerment transaction.
Bramdaw further confirmed that he had recommended the SATF. However, he would not say which other organisations were allocated shares or any further aspects of the deal.
Solly Suleman, a past president of the Minara Chamber of Commerce, confirmed the organisation had received just over R900000.
He said that some of the money was invested while the remainder went towards the chamber’s running costs.
Suleman said the person who facilitated the transaction was Bramdaw.
However, the SATF has no record of the money being due or having been received.
This was confirmed by the current president Radha Pillay.
But other members of the SATF want clarity.
One of them is Mohamberry Govender, a founder and life member of the SATF.
In October last year he sent a letter to Yana Pillay, demanding answers.
Pillay, whose father was one of the founding members of the SATF, has served in senior positions in the organisation. He responded via his lawyers.
“Our client learnt of this donation via Mr Nirode Bramdaw, who invited our client to his flat during or about the beginning of 2018.
“Mr Bramdaw informed our client he was appointed by the ANC to identify the organisations and invite them to a function to officially receive cheques.
“Our client was further advised that three people attended the function on behalf of the SATF.
“Our client was advised by Mr Bramdaw that he was concerned because the three people requested him to make the payment out to a shelf company, which he did.”
Pillay confirmed to the POST that he had received Govender’s letter and that he had responded via his attorney.
He said the issue of the missing money had been raised repeatedly by several individuals in the SATF but the only information he had was that provided by Bramdaw.
Pillay said in the closing days of last year, he had received a letter from attorney Deniro Pillay who was acting for the individuals who allegedly received the money through a shelf company.
The lawyer asked Pillay to withdraw the allegations and apologise or face high court action.
Pillay told the POST he would not be silenced.
“This is a serious issue. I am heart-broken because I would have gone the extra mile for these people.
“These are also people that have done a lot for the Tamil language and community. I am not sure how they chose to take the wrong road for a lousy R900 000.
“My father, a founding member of the SATF, would have been a broken man if he was alive to see what was going on.”
A past president of the SATF, Karthigasen Moothsamy, said: “If money was allocated to the SATF but did not come to the SATF, where did it go?”
The POST sent questions to Deniro Pillay, a director at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc.
He responded that the allegations were unfounded and defamatory. He said the SATF had investigated the matter and concluded that the money was not meant for the SATF.
He said his clients had started legal proceedings to clear their names.
“At this stage my clients will not be making any further statements in order not to compromise their legal proceedings.”
The POST knows the name of the company that allegedly received the money. However, at the time of publication, we were not able to verify the names of the directors. As a result, we have not named the individuals - Editor