Businessman seeks retraction or legal remedy after publication of book extract
Abook extract published by City Press in November last year has opened old wounds for businessman Ndaba Ntsele, who is seeking a retraction or a legal remedy. Ntsele, the CEO of Pamodzi Investment Holdings and president of the Black Business Council, is threatening legal action against City Press, which published the extract from Peter Vundla’s book, Doing Time.
However, Ntsele has not taken any action against Vundla himself.
Ntsele’s lawyers refer to the publication of a paragraph reflecting Vundla’s ill-fated business relationship with Pamodzi, saying it is defamatory.
Vundla, the chairman of AMB Capital and one of the founders of HerdBuoys advertising agency, told City Press he had not heard anything from Ntsele’s lawyers. He “is not concerned” about Ntsele coming after him. Vundla said he had not spoken to Ntsele since the publication of his memoirs last year.
“I don’t move in his circles, but I haven’t spoken to him about it,” Vundla said.
“What surprises me is that it’s almost a year since this book was published and now he’s coming up with this so late in the day,” he added.
But Vundla said he stuck by what he had said in the book because “that’s my biography” and what he had written was far from defamatory.
In Vundla’s book, he talked about a 1997 meeting with Ntsele and Solly Sithole at the HerdBuoys offices in Marlboro. He said that against his better judgement, he agreed to become chairman of Pamodzi Investment Holdings.
“As they left my office, little did I know that I had entered into a world of intrigue, deceit, bad faith, abuse, poor governance and witchcraft,” he wrote.
This is one of the sentences Ntsele’s lawyers, Tshisevhe Gwina Ratshimbilani, have particularly objected to, saying it contained defamatory material and was used by City Press as an introductory commentary.
Vundla was made chairperson for two years at a time when the company was exposed to a lot of deal flow.
Vundla said big business wanted to do business with him and not “with the unknowns who hung on to my coat-tails”.
“It would be two years and more of the abusive use of my name,” he said in the book.
While management “really worked the investments we had”, Vundla said in his book that he found them remote and disengaged, and he would be called to intervene in infighting “even on such silly matters as witchcraft”.
Through a deal between African Merchant Bank and Pamodzi, the relationship between the two camps became “fraught with mistrust and suspicion”.
Vundla resigned in March 2003 and “put out the usual bulls**t press release about my leaving to pursue my own interests”.