Bhisho bosses’ R2m piggy bank

But ANC officials claim it was a donation for the party

An Mthatha businessman has implicated two Eastern Cape MECs and a senior Bhisho official in an alleged R2m plot which financed, among other things, a car and a Gucci shopping spree in Sandton.
In a sworn affidavit, Lonwabo Bam alleged that MECs Babalo Madikizela and Weziwe Tikana received hundreds of thousands of rands from the deal which Bam was first pulled into by Baphelele Mhlaba, chief of staff to premierelect Oscar Mabuyane.
In an interview on Sunday, Bam alleged that the money was ultimately siphoned from the provincial transport department, where Tikana was the MEC. He did not state this in his affidavit.
The affidavit, signed at the Butterworth police station on April 27, is the second one in a week to emerge implicating senior ANC provincial leaders in alleged corruption.
In it, Bam alleged that on the evening of August 7 2018 he was called by Mhlaba, who subsequently instructed and coached him to draft an invoice for R2.2m, supposedly for coil material to make corrugated iron.
The invoice was to be done on behalf of, and sent to, a Masilo Phala, who would then pay the money into Bam’s account.
On August 11, Bam sent the invoice and, on the same day, received proof of payment from Phala.
“An hour after talking with Mr Phala, I received a call from Babalo Madikizela asking me if there was no money deposited into my account,” Bam wrote.
At the time, the money had not cleared in Bam’s account.
Bam said that, at about 4pm, he received another call from Mhlaba – also inquiring about the money.
“He then told me that the provincial chairman [Mabuyane] was in need of R20,000.
“I told him that I will give him from my money and I will take it when that amount has cleared by the bank.”
Bam said he deposited R21,800 to a business account of Cuntu advisory services.
In the documents accompanying the affidavit are screenshots of WhatsApp conversations between a phone user saved as “Chief of Staff” and Bam.
On August 11, the phone user sent Cuntu advisory services’ account details, to which Bam responds “sharp sharp” and subsequently sends proof of payment.
When the R2.2m cleared three days later, Bam said, he told Madikizela, who then instructed him to book flights for both of them to Johannesburg.
Also included in the documents are screenshots of WhatsApp conversations between a phone user called “Babalo” and Bam.
They include screenshots of two flight boarding passes sent by Bam.
“I also notified Mhlaba that the money was available as he was always asking,” Bam wrote.
“When I was in [Johannesburg], Mhlaba phoned me in the afternoon and asked me to transfer R300,000 to the account of Ntsikelelo Mzamane.
“Before I could phone Mzamane, I told Mhlaba that he must first talk to Babalo Madikizela as he was next to me.
“Mhlaba phoned Madikizela and they talked together.
“After they finished their conversation, Babalo Madikizela instructed me to make the payment that Mhlaba had requested,” Bam wrote.
One WhatsApp screenshot shows that at 8.57am on August 14, Bam texted a phone user named “Chief of Staff”: “Kude kwalunga” [finally it is well], to which the user responded “Amandla!”
The user then texted a number for Mzamane, with the message: “You can liase with him Cadre for that R300k transfer [sic].”
From then on, Bam alleged, Madikizela made several requests for money to be sent to various accounts.
This included an amount of R400,000 which Bam claimed was for Tikana.
“Babalo Madikizela called Tikana and talked to her in my presence and [he] told her that the money was available and she must send him the account where she would love that her portion be deposited,” Bam claimed.
“She sent the account to Babalo Madikizela, who then sent it to my phone.”
He said the account-holder name was Mandla Limitless.
“On 15/08/2018 at 09h05, Babalo Madikizela sent me through an SMS account details for LSM Distributions (Pty) T/A Bentley Johannesburg and said I must deposit an amount of R500,000 and the reference must be his initial and surname B Madikizela.
“I made the transaction and
the payment was successful.
“The reason for this deposit as he told me the previous day was that he wanted to secure a Bentley vehicle that he wanted to buy for cash, so the amount was for deposit,” Bam wrote in the affidavit.
Other payments he was allegedly instructed to make by Madikizela were:
● R100,000 to a man named Khwalo through the account of Red Step Investments. A further R200,000 was later sent to the same account – R50,000 to TP Madikizela.
WhatsApp screenshots show Bam asking for banking details from a phone user named “Khwalo BCM”.
The phone user sends them, and minutes later texts back “Got it Amandla”.
● Amounts of R136,172, R111,500 and R31,500 for tax invoices addressed to Madikizela;
● R310,000 to PSNP and R37,305 for clothes bought by Madikizela at a Gucci store in Sandton, Johannesburg.
“On August 16, Mr Babalo Madikizela called me while he was in Cape Town and asked me how much was left from that R2.2m and I told him that it was only R30,000,” Bam said.
“He instructed me to deposit the balance to his account.”
Bam said he made the payment.
“I cried to him, requesting him to give me money as I was having none.
“He told me that Masilo Phala was to deposit another money [sic],” Bam wrote.
In an earlier affidavit, Bam alleged that Madikizela had instructed him to file a fraudulent invoice to claim R1m from the Mbizana municipality.
Madikizela denied the allegation.
About R450,000 of that allegedly paid for Mabuyane’s home renovations.
However, Mabuyane said the money was a loan based on a documented agreement with Madikizela, and that he had no dealings whatsoever with Bam.
How they responded
The R2.2m was a donation for the ANC in the Eastern Cape.
This is according to ANC fundraising committee member Baphelele Mhlaba, who is also premierelect Oscar Mabuyane’s chief of staff.
He said the money was a donation from Key Spirit Trading director Masilo Phala.
“This was not the only donation received at the time,” he said.
Mhlaba said he would be consulting a lawyer in relation to the allegations made by businessman Lonwabo Bam.
“The affidavit is false. It is a distortion of information at best.
“Any reference to Mabuyane in the affidavit has no basis or reference, it is solely meant to cast aspersions on the image and integrity of the premierelect in the Eastern Cape ahead of the swearing in on Wednesday.”
He said as an ANC fundraiser he requested donations from many business people.
“Phala is one of those businessmen who have donated.
“When requested, he gladly obliged to donate to the work of the organisation,” he said.
Mabuyane said Bam was a “desperate agent” trying to tarnish his name.
“I don’t do such things and I will never do them.
“All these exist in the figment of his imagination.
“My considered view is to take legal action against him.
“I am committed in investigating all these allegations soonest.
“Any person who is using my name for his or her personal benefit should be investigated and prosecuted.
“I did not and I will never instruct people to solicit funds on my behalf,” he said.
Phala said he had given the R2.2m as a donation for the ANC.
“I used to do work around [the] Eastern Cape and I know Baphelele as a comrade.
“That is how I got involved in this thing,” he said.
He said he donated money to the ANC as and when required.
ANC Eastern Cape treasurer Babalo Madikizela refused to comment on the allegations.
“I don’t want to comment on these never-ending affidavits from Lonwabo,” he said.
“These affidavits keep popping up and are leaked
to the media. I expect he will make more allegations about everything that has happened between us over the past 15 years of our friendship.”
Weziwe Tikana, who was the then transport MEC and allegedly received R400,000 from Bam, denied the claims in the affidavit.
“I never received money. I never received any R400,000,” she said.
“You can check my statements. I never received any money.
“I don’t know him. I never received any money from Bam.
“I don’t know who he [Bam] is. I know some business people but I never met him.
“I never received any money from him.”
According to the affidavit, Madikizela told Bam to pay the money into the account of Mandla Limitless for Tikana.
Tikana said Mandla Limitless was a company that did work for the ANC.
“It renders services for the ANC. I don’t know of the amounts [paid to Mandla Limitless].
“Any money paid to them was not for my personal benefit.”
Songo Consulting owner Ntsikelelo Mzamane said he had no recollection of the R300,000 that he allegedly received on August 15 2018.
Ntsikelelo Mzamane said he had no recollection of the R300,000 he allegedly received
“I don’t even know Bam so I don’t know why my name would be involved,” he said, adding he would check his financial records for the deposit.
Mzamane said he was friends with Mhlaba and had in the past received money from him. He did not respond later to specific questions put to him.
In his affidavit, Bam alleges that Red Step Investment director Lunga Nqam received R300,000 in two transactions as instructed by Madikizela.
Nqam, who serves on the ANC finance committee in the province, said: “I know Bam through Madikizela but I don’t have a personal relationship with him.
“Bam and Madikizela have been friends for years.”
He said the provincial executive committee of the ANC owed taxi operators who had supplied transport for the 106th celebration and assumed this was why he would have received the money.
“We managed to raise funds and people donated to the ANC.
“We managed to pay them so that is the only reason I can think why that money might have been deposited into my account,” Nqam said.
In January 2018, about 50 taxi bosses invaded Calata House and demanded to be paid for ferrying ANC members and supporters to the ANC’s 106th celebration.
At the time, the ANC owed the taxi operators R8m.

This article is reserved for HeraldLIVE subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all our content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Already registered on DispatchLIVE, BusinessLIVE, TimesLIVE or SowetanLIVE? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.