A com­pany by any other name...

Brands up for grabs as Pre­to­ria busi­ness­man reg­is­ters scores of com­pa­nies with same or sim­i­lar names to those that al­ready ex­ist

CityPress - - Business - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

Abusi­ness­man in Laudium near Pre­to­ria has been reg­is­ter­ing dozens of com­pa­nies that seem­ingly im­per­son­ate well-es­tab­lished cor­po­ra­tions, in­dus­try groups and even re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties. Sha­heer Noor­mo­hamed reg­is­tered about 40 com­pa­nies, mostly late last year, that have names that sound a lot like those of well-known com­pa­nies, busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions and po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

He also cre­ated what sounds like his own ver­sions of var­i­ous lo­cal Is­lamic or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the South African hajj and ha­laal au­thor­i­ties.

Noor­mo­hamed’s fam­ily con­trols Nis­me­dia, the pub­lisher of nine com­mu­nity news­pa­pers across Gaut­eng. They also own Glow TV, a DStv chan­nel tar­geted at the In­dian di­as­pora.

Apart from th­ese real busi­nesses, one of Noor­mo­hamed’s reg­is­tered com­pa­nies is the Gau­train Man­age­ment Agency.

The real Gau­train Man­age­ment Agency is a cre­ation of statute and not a reg­is­tered com­pany.

It had sent the sher­iff af­ter Noor­mo­hamed af­ter dis­cov­er­ing his du­pli­cate com­pany, said Gau­train spokesper­son Bar­bara Jensen.

“They could not be found at the listed ad­dress and we will now most prob­a­bly in­struct our at­tor­neys to ap­point an in­ves­ti­ga­tor to find the di­rec­tor(s),” she told City Press.

Also among Noor­mo­hamed’s com­pa­nies are Bid­vest Group and Proudly Bid­vest, which are not ac­tu­ally part of the JSE-listed Bid­vest Group.

Im­pe­rial Hold­ings is also cer­tain that Noor­mo­hamed’s Im­pe­rial Auto Auc­tions is not one of its many sub­sidiaries.

The Reinet In­vest­ments reg­is­tered in South Africa is Noor­mo­hamed’s, un­like the Lux­em­bourg-reg­is­tered one headed by Jo­hann Ru­pert.

Other com­pa­nies reg­is­tered by Noor­mo­hamed last year are Dan­gote Group and Dan­gote Ce­ment.

Sephaku Ce­ment, the South African com­pany in which Nige­rian multi­na­tional Dan­gote holds an in­ter­est, told City Press that th­ese were “fraud­u­lent”.

Noor­mo­hamed also reg­is­tered AB In­bev SA as well as An­heuser­busch In­bev, which are not to be con­fused with the multi­na­tional megabrewer that re­cently merged with SABMiller.

Even the Gupta fam­ily got their main in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle knocked off as Oak­bay Re­sources En­ergy, which is miss­ing the “and” in the real com­pany’s name.

The SA Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco) was alarmed to learn that there is now another San­taco reg­is­tered on the na­tional com­pa­nies data­base.

The taxi coun­cil’s spokesper­son, Thabisho Molelekwa, said: “I can cat­e­gor­i­cally state that the regis­tra­tion num­ber ... does not be­long to San­taco. Nei­ther does it be­long to any of the en­ti­ties of San­taco. It is there­fore a fake.”

Trans­ac­tion Cap­i­tal said it had not en­coun­tered S A Taxi, which looks a lot like their minibus fi­nance sub­sidiary SA Taxi, but with no space be­tween the S and the A.

Busi­ness Lead­er­ship SA said it was un­aware of the new Busi­ness Lead­er­ship SA reg­is­tered by Noor­mo­hamed in July.

“It is the first time that this mat­ter has come to our at­ten­tion. We will fol­low up with our le­gal ad­vis­ers,” the ad­vo­cacy group said by email.

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers did not re­spond to ques­tions about the other Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers, a non­profit com­pany reg­is­tered by Noor­mo­hamed in Oc­to­ber. He also reg­is­tered a com­pany called EFFYL on the same day, which could con­ceiv­ably be con­fused with the op­po­si­tion party’s youth league.

This echoes an older Noor­mo­hamed com­pany called ANCYL, which was named in De­cem­ber 2013.

This com­pany, which shares the acro­nym with the gov­ern­ing party’s youth league, also has a logo us­ing the ANC’s green, yel­low and black colours, which was used in an ad­ver­tise­ment in the SA Prop­erty Re­view in 2015.

An ap­par­ently paid-for pro­file of Noor­mo­hamed that was pub­lished in the same edi­tion de­scribes him as “soar­ing up the cor­po­rate lad­der”.

A pic­ture of him along­side the pro­file car­ries the cap­tion “di­rec­tor of com­pa­nies”.

South Africa’s var­i­ous Is­lamic or­gan­i­sa­tions seem to be a favourite tar­get as well.

South Africa’s quota for pil­grims to Mecca is ad­min­is­tered by the SA Hajj and Um­rah Coun­cil.

This is not the same as Noor­mo­hamed’s SA Hajj and Um­rah Com­mit­tee.

The SA Na­tional Ha­laal Au­thor­ity is also not the same as Noor­mo­hamed’s SA Ha­laal Coun­cil.

City Press has no ev­i­dence that th­ese com­pa­nies have been used in fraud­u­lent deal­ings or, in fact, for any pur­poses.

Con­tacted for com­ment by phone and email, Noor­mo­hamed said he would pro­vide an­swers to ques­tions by Mon­day af­ter­noon. He did not. Noor­mo­hamed has been in the news be­fore, mostly con­nected to a mass evic­tion at a build­ing in Pre­to­ria man­aged by his prop­erty com­pany Nazbro Prop­er­ties.

There have also been me­dia re­ports about his get­ting shot in the leg dur­ing an al­ter­ca­tion at a su­per­mar­ket in Laudium in 2015.

Tricky sit­u­a­tion

The Com­pa­nies Act dis­al­lows the regis­tra­tion of com­pa­nies with the same name as an ex­ist­ing one, or a name that is “con­fus­ingly sim­i­lar”. It also can­not be the same as or sim­i­lar to a reg­is­tered trade­mark.

The Com­pa­nies and In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Com­mis­sion (CIPC) told City Press that it was the ex­ist­ing com­pany’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to guard its name.

“The CIPC can­not de­ter­mine whether or not the names listed are ‘con­fus­ingly sim­i­lar’ or ‘mis­lead­ing’ upon the regis­tra­tion of the name,” said CIPC spokesper­son Tshi­amo Zebe­diela.

“There is not enough in­for­ma­tion as part of the name reser­va­tion process to make such a de­ci­sion, and we can only con­firm reg­is­tered com­pa­nies and close cor­po­ra­tions against our registry.

“Whether it is con­fus­ingly sim­i­lar or mis­lead­ing depends on a wide range of fac­tors. The ad­ju­di­ca­tion of names lies with the Com­pa­nies Tri­bunal,” said Zebe­diela via email.

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