Ghost from the Past
| From the dock of a court in Kenya, a convicted drug dealer with links to top former ANC exiles says Orlando Pirates chief Irvin Khoza must explain what happened to missing Soweto businessman Rocks Dlamini
OPENING OLD WOUNDS: Irvin Khoza denies allegations he was involved in Rocks Dlamini’s disappearance his silence, relating for the first time what he had told police about Dlamini’s disappearance. He said a friend of Goswami’s owed his brother-in-law Billy Vila R120 000. Vila had arrived at Goswami’s house demanding the money. Goswami later gave Khoza the money, asking him to hand it over to Vila.
“I gave it to Billy. After that I was not involved.”
He said Dlamini, a popular salesman at a clothing store, had no connection with the incident. “We knew each other socially but I had no fight with him and he never worked for me. I never met with him [on the day he disappeared].”
He had related these events to former crime intelligence head Afrika Khumalo, whom he took to see Vila, and former police chief Jackie Selebi. VANISHED: Robert ‘Rocks’ Dlamini
“Selebi even went to Dubai to interview Vicky,” said Khoza.
This week Goswami denied owing Dlamini any money.
“Rocks was blackmailing me and tried to extort money from me. I am prepared to sit face to face with his family and explain my story. I am willing to come back to South Africa and clear my name.”
Goswami, an Indian national, left South Africa a year after Dlamini disappeared. It is believed a former government minister who was on Goswami’s payroll tipped him off about his imminent arrest.
When Goswami was given the name of the former minister, he would not confirm or deny it.
“I know a number of ANC members. Remember, I contributed to the ANC when I was in Zambia. I knew some of the ANC leaders and ministers when I was in South Africa from our days in Zambia. I gave money to the ANC and contributed to the struggle.”
Goswami refused to name his “friends in the ANC” but did confirm his relationship with Khoza.
“Irvin is a good friend of mine and nothing more than that.”
Asked when last he spoke to Khoza, Goswami gave three answers.
The first was: “I speak to him more often but not always.”
Then: “I think I last spoke to him 10 years ago.”
And: “I think the last time I spoke to him was 16 years ago.”
When pressed for the right answer, Goswami angrily asked: “Why are you so obsessed on when was the last time we spoke? He is my friend and I will never deny that.”
Goswami and Khoza met in the early ’80s in Zambia where Goswami was running a drug cartel. According to his charge sheet Khoza was arrested at Lusaka International Airport in 1983 after he was caught with mandrax tablets while boarding a flight to South Africa.
He told the court he had been given the drugs by an unnamed ANC representative in Kenya. He was found guilty of possession of narcotics and paid a 95 Zambian kwacha fine.
Goswami’s stay in Zambia was short. He became the subject of an investigation by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission and fled to South Africa in November 1993 after a former Zambian minister tipped him off that he was to be deported.
In South Africa he enjoyed the high life, rubbing shoulders with senior government officials; he even posed for a photo with Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium during the African Cup of Nations final in 1996.
Goswami left South Africa for Dubai, where he was arrested on June 21 1997 for possession of mandrax worth $6-million. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was released on October 15 2012 after spending 16 years in jail.
Goswami does not want to talk about his drug dealing.
“I have done my time and paid the price. I was convicted wrongfully,” he said.
After his release, Goswami moved to Kenya where he settled in Mombasa, moving from hotel to hotel until his arrest this month. “My arrest here in Kenya was a set-up. I was trying to bring investors here and open a cement factory,” he said.
Selebi could not be reached for comment.
Detailed questions were sent via SMS to police spokesman Solomon Makgale.
These included whether the police would travel to Kenya to interview Goswami.
Makgale responded: “The case is still open and under investigation. If there is anyone with information who is keen to assist us, we will most certainly follow up. Hopefully, this will lead to the apprehension of the suspects.”