Lifestyles of the VBS ‘heist’ rich and infamous
Nothing but the best for men named in alleged looting of failed bank
● Ski jaunts to Alaska, fleets of flashy cars, and homes in some of the most sought-after locations in the country.
These are just some of the luxuries on which three of the men named in the damning report on the looting of VBS Mutual Bank splashed out.
Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former chair of the bank, Robert Madzonga, CEO of Vele Investments and a former COO of VBS, and Kabelo Matsepe, a former leader of the ANC Youth League in Limpopo, were named in the report, “The Great Bank Heist”, released this week by advocate Terry Motau.
The report, commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank, found that over the past three years more than 50 people had benefited from “gratuitous” payouts totalling nearly R2bn from the Limpopobased bank.
The report says Matodzi pocketed R325m and Madzonga received in excess of R30m through a vast network of companies and fronts.
Matsepe, described by Motau as the politically connected “fixer” who secured the pliancy of municipalities that pushed business towards VBS, is said to have received R35.4m.
Facebook posts show that in December last year, three months before VBS was placed under curatorship due to a liquidity crisis, Matodzi, 41, the alleged kingpin in the fraud, hit the ski slopes in Alaska.
Among the resorts he appears to have visited is Alyeska, 70km north of Anchorage. The Alyeska Hotel, nestled in a lush valley surrounded by snowcapped mountain peaks, was advertising a daily rate of $111 (R1,600) a person sharing this week.
“I will bring lots of ice to take to Venda,” Matodzi joked with a friend who marvelled at the pictures he posted on Facebook.
Public documents show Matodzi has at least two properties in his name in SA, a R1.5m house in the plush Eagle Canyon Golf Estate west of Johannesburg and a R1.7m, 9ha farm on the outskirts of Pretoria.
Matodzi is said to have hosted meetings at the Eagle Canyon property with Matsepe and others to plan the VBS enrichment scheme.
Matodzi, an active director of six other businesses, referred requests for comment to his lawyer.
Matodzi’s lawyer, advocate Hechter Hanson, said: “Our client is willing to co-operate ... but at this stage ... allegations mere assumptions.” Hanson would not be drawn to answer detailed questions.
Madzonga, who is also a pastor, has assets that include a mansion worth R8.5m in Blue Hills, north of Johannesburg, and a home in Plettenberg Bay.
His cars, including a Brabus-tuned Mercedes-Benz G63 which sells for R2.5m, a Lamborghini and a RollsRoyce Phantom, have been flaunted on social media by his wife, beauty queen Khosi Madzonga.
Khosi was dropped as a Brand SA ambassador after a vitriolic rant aimed at a journalist who questioned her about her lavish lifestyle.
Motau said he could make no definitive finding as to what specific role Madzonga might have played, but his denial of any knowledge or involvement in the fraud and theft “rings hollow”.
Madzonga, 51, has protested his innocence.
“The amounts are for salaries, bonuses, for cars and for bonds,” said Madzonga, whose estate, along with that of Matodzi, has been provisionally sequestrated at the request of the VBS curators.
“I did not benefit from the looting,” Madzonga said. “Until today I pay for my house and my cars and if I don’t pay they can come and repossess them.”
He said he’d been hired by the company and never questioned where the money to pay him came from.
Matsepe’s windfall included a bond of nearly R5.5m through VBS, which he used to buy a home in Midstream Estate in Centurion.
A company linked to Matsepe is also alleged to have channelled R250,000 to the ANC by purchasing a table for a gala dinner in January in Port Elizabeth to mark the party’s 106th birthday.
Efforts to contact Matsepe by phone were unsuccessful and he received but did not respond to a WhatsApp message with detailed questions.
Motau said in his report that “there is hardly a person in its [VBS’s] employ in any position of authority who is not, in some way or other, complicit”.
Khosi Madzonga with some of the luxury cars she and her husband own: a Rolls-Royce Phantom, below, and a Brabus-tuned Mercedes-Benz G63, left, that sells for R2.5m.
Vele Investments boss Robert Madzonga with his beauty queen wife, Khosi.
Former VBS chair Tshifhiwa Matodzi, left, with Venda king Toni Ramabulana.
Former Limpopo ANC Youth League chair Kabelo Matsepe.