Text mes­sages show brazen VBS bribes

Re­serve Bank court pa­pers on loot­ing at the mu­tual bank im­pli­cate more Lim­popo of­fi­cials

Mail & Guardian - - News - Than­dux­olo Jika

Two of­fi­cials in the Lim­popo mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that de­posited mil­lions of rands of pub­lic funds in the now-de­funct VBS Mu­tual Bank asked for ex­pen­sive gifts and a share in the loot grabbed dur­ing the bank heist.

This is al­leged in court doc­u­ments an­swer­ing former ANC Lim­popo trea­surer Danny Msiza’s ap­pli­ca­tion to re­view the Re­serve Bank re­port on VBS by Terry Mo­tau, SC.

Although the re­port is in the pub­lic do­main, the ad­denda to it were not pre­vi­ously made pub­lic be­cause they con­tain per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. Msiza’s ap­pli­ca­tion to re­view the re­port has now ex­posed that in­for­ma­tion.

This week the ANC fired seven may­ors from the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that de­posited money in VBS.

Mo­tau al­leged that Msiza, who re­signed this week, is a di­rec­tor, to­gether with his wife, in a com­pany that was paid R1.5-mil­lion un­der ques­tion­able cir­cum­stances, and a R9.5-mil­lion bond granted to Msiza’s com­pany was ser­viced in part by Ka­belo Mat­sepe’s com­pany.

Mat­sepe is one of the peo­ple listed in the Mo­tau re­port as hav­ing re­ceived “gra­tu­itous” pay­ments from VBS.

Mo­tau at­tached What­sapp mes­sages be­tween Mat­sepe and Msiza, in which they dis­cuss mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ in­vest­ments and pay­ments.

Mat­sepe de­nied any wrong­do­ing or that he re­ceived pay­ments in cor­rupt trans­ac­tions. He said the money he re­ceived was paid to him as com­mis­sions for facilitating de­posits to VBS.

The an­swer­ing pa­pers from Mo­tau also re­veal de­tails of how sus­pended Collins Cha­bane mu­nic­i­pal­ity mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Charlotte Ngob­eni and former Makhado mu­nic­i­pal­ity chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Mikateko Makhubela were re­quest­ing favours from Mat­sepe, who is linked to the VBS bank heist.

Ngob­eni, who has de­nied wrong­do­ing, had ap­proved R120-mil­lion for her mu­nic­i­pal­ity to de­posit in VBS, and Makhubela signed off on a R140-mil­lion in­vest­ment with the bank.

Mo­tau re­vealed What­sapp mes­sages be­tween Ngob­eni and Mat­sepe to show a long-run­ning re­la­tion­ship be­tween Msiza, Mat­sepe and the two of­fi­cials.

In one of the mes­sages, sent in Jan­uary, Ngob­eni asked Mat­sepe to bring her a gift from his trip to Davos, Switzer­land, for the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum. “Dur­ing Jan­uary Ngob­eni de­manded that Mat­sepe bring her ‘a very ex­pen­sive hand­bag’ from Davos. In­stead Mat­sepe pur­chased a Tag Heuer watch for her,” said Mo­tau.

The court doc­u­ments re­veal that Ngob­eni’s name was among those passed on to Mat­sepe by Msiza so that Mat­sepe would make pay­ments to them.

Ngob­eni told the Mail & Guardian that she had not re­ceived any gifts from Mat­sepe. “Those mes­sages were in­no­cent. They have noth­ing to do with VBS be­cause Ka­belo Mat­sepe was not even part of us in­vest­ing in VBS. I know him on a per­sonal level, not on a pro­fes­sional level. He never did any busi­ness with us. That was a friendly ges­ture; he did not bring back any­thing. It is just like when you ask some­one to bring you sand from Dur­ban, they don’t bring it, do they?”

She said she was in­tro­duced to Mat­sepe be­tween De­cem­ber 2017 and Jan­uary 2018 as a per­son who could as­sist the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to re­cover its money from VBS, af­ter trea­sury had in­structed mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties not to in­vest with the mu­tual bank.

“When I was in­tro­duced to him it was dur­ing that time when the money was sup­posed to come back and we were still strug­gling to get the money back … We thought Ka­belo would as­sist us in get­ting the money be­cause that per­son that as­sisted us in in­vest­ing the money was not pick­ing up our phones any­more,” said Ngob­eni.

Mo­tau also quoted What­sapp mes­sages be­tween Makhubela and Mat­sepe, in which the former com­plained that she was be­ing given a smaller share of R100 000 from VBS.

“So I get 33k out of all my ef­forts ... pls u Giyani u must make it up to me,” reads the mes­sage. Mat­sepe re­sponded: “cause it’s a smaller pie and will get some­thing when the pe­riod is 6 month, D said deputy Mayor must not get any­thing from this thing” and “he said he told her”.

Makhubela re­sponded by say­ing: “No prob­lem. So i must rein­vest ne in end of march till June. Will it help to re­cover?” Ac­cord­ing to Mo­tau, “D” re­ferred to Msiza.

Makhubela, who now works at the Greater Tza­neen mu­nic­i­pal­ity as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, said she was sick and could not com­ment. “I am not well, I just had an op­er­a­tion and my mind is not work­ing well,” she said.

A num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als im­pli­cated in the Re­serve Bank re­port on VBS have claimed that they would chal­lenge it in court, but are yet to do so. These in­clude the bank’s former ex­ec­u­tives and also Brian Shivambu, the brother of the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters’ deputy pres­i­dent, Floyd.

Texts speak: Danny Msiza (far right) and two other Lim­popo of­fi­cials are named in court pa­pers. Photo: An­to­nio Muchave/sowe­tan/gallo Im­ages

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