HAMBA KAHLE NYAMBOSE

Sunday Observer - - FRONT PAGE - BY THEMBEKA DLAMINI

To say Acti ng Ludzidzi ni Gover­nor Ti­mothy Ve­labo Mtetwa died a dis­ap­pointed man would be an un­der­state­ment as he never got to see his E100 000 in­vest­ment with Share­max bear fruits.

Mtetwa’s death marks the loss of the 13th mem­ber of lo­cal in­vestors who com­mit­ted over E24 mil­lion through now de­funct Isam­bulo In­sur­ance Bro­kers as pur­chases of shares to var­i­ous South African prop­erty de­vel­op­ments sold by Share­max.

In all, 152 in­di­vid­u­als, as well as about four or­gan­i­sa­tions make up the lo­cal mem­bers who were promised re­turns of up to 12 per cent dur­ing the height of the Share­max prod­uct mak­ing waves in the coun­try.

His in­vest­ment’s ma­tu­rity date could not be as­cer­tained as he has over the years de­clined to re­veal when he in­vested the money and date of ma­tu­rity of his share cer­tifi­cate whereas op­er­a­tions at Share­max were halted in 2010 re­sult­ing in the monthly in­ter­est which was paid to mem­bers stop­ping.

In Novem­ber 2013, this publi­ca­tion re­vealed how Mtetwa was one of the mem­bers who ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment about the loss of E100 000 which he ploughed into the legally regis­tered Isam­bulo In­sur­ance af­ter be­ing con­vinced by now de­ceased erst­while Liqoqo Coun­cil Mem­ber Rev­erend Abed­nigo Dlamini.

Mtetwa, dur­ing the meet­ing of in­vestors in 2013, re­fused to be in­ter­viewed save to ex­press his dis­ap­point­ment, stat­ing that he had been robbed.

Over the years, when­ever he was called about de­vel­op­ments and feed­back on his in­vest­ments, he would state that he did not want his name to ap­pear in ar­ti­cles as the loss of his money re­mained a painful is­sue.

He was last in­ter­viewed last year where he stated that he was los­ing hope of get­ting his in­vest­ment which would have reached nearly E200 000, had he saved it in a bank where it would have at­tracted in­ter­est.

Of note is that the el­derly tra­di­tional states­man was not the only mem­ber of his fam­ily to have lost a size­able amount as one of his sons is listed in the records of the 152 in­di­vid­u­als to have put in E1.5mil­lion.

When the chair­man of the in­vestors Ben­jamin Sibandze was called this past week, he could only mourn the death of Mtetwa say­ing he was not able to break con­fi­dence about amounts lost.

“I can only send con­do­lences to the Mtetwa fam­ily as talk­ing about the lost money at this stage would be in­sen­si­tive,” he said.

On the other hand, one of the in­vestors, a busi­ness­man, who also contributed to the E1.5mil­lion was con­tacted, he said Mtetwa’s death lost them a lot of lever­age as they had hoped lo­cal au­thor­i­ties would as­sist be­cause of his sta­tus.

“He was vi­tal in our cause as his name car­ried a lot of weight,” he said, adding how he too was slowly los­ing hope of get­ting his money back.

“I would be liv­ing off the in­ter­est had I saved it in the bank,” he said be­fore stat­ing that talk­ing about the money made him ill.

“My life has been hell af­ter los­ing that money as I had to start over again and it is a strug­gle,” he said.

Most of the in­vestors com­mit­ted their sav­ings and re­tire­ment pack­ages in the failed in­vest­ment af­ter sat­is­fy­ing them­selves that Isam­bulo In­sur­ance Bro­kers was le­git­i­mately regis­tered with the reg­u­la­tory author­ity.

“I in­vested all that money af­ter ex­ten­sive prod­ding and in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” the in­vestor said yes­ter­day. He said his de­ci­sion to in­vest came about af­ter hear­ing how his for­mer col­leagues were coin­ing in­ter­est, im­me­di­ately af­ter trans­fer­ring their sav­ings to the South African ac­count which be­longed to Share­max.

“I still in­sist that due to the le­git­i­mate regis­tra­tion of Is am bu lo In­vest­ments which sold us the prod­uct, and the fact that th­ese were prop- erty in­vest­ment shares, we never joined a pyra­mid scheme but lost our money to un­scrupu­lous busi­ness peo­ple,” he said.

Some of the or­gan­i­sa­tions which com­mit­ted money to the failed in­vest­ment in­clude Hlalawati Sav­ings and Credit Co­op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety (E4mil­lion); Swazi­land Union of Fi­nan­cial In­sti­tu­tions and Al­lied Work­ers (SUFIAW) (E100 000) for­mer SAPPI em­ploy­ees; for­mer SPTC em­ploy­ees as well as var­i­ous pens i on­ers a nd busi­ness peo­ple.

Of note, as it hap­pens in pyra­mid schemes, the first peo­ple who in­vested were able to get two to three in­ter­est pay­ments be­fore SHARE­MAX op­er­a­tions were halted af­ter they were banned from col­lect­ing de­posits by the South African Re­serve Bank.

This is de­spite the fact that their share cer­tifi­cates state that their in­vest­ments would ma­ture in stages of seven to 10 years.

This fact has been touted by the for­mer SAPPI Usuthu work­ers who have over the years de­cried how they were duped into in­vest­ing af­ter the com­pany was in­vited by man­age­ment prior to their re­trench­ment, some­thing which they said val­i­dated the le­git­i­macy of Isam­bulo In­sur­ance Bro­kers led by Dlamini.

I in­vested all that money af­ter ex­ten­sive prod­ding and in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” the in­vestor said yes­ter­day. He said his de­ci­sion to in­vest came about af­ter hear­ing how his for­mer col­leagues were coin­ing in­ter­est, im­me­di­ately af­ter trans­fer­ring their sav­ings to the South African ac­count which be­longed to Share­max.

The late Ti­mothy Ve­labo Mtetwa.

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