Saturday, March 17, 2012
ANC wants property deal probe
NASHIRA DAVIDS | 15 March, 2012 00:24
Mathole Motshekga. File photo.
Image by: VELI NHLAPO
What do a prime property in the Cape Town CBD, the ANC and the DA have in common? The answer: the public protector.
ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga kicked up a stink about the R106-million sale of prime property belonging to media giant Naspers to the City of Cape Town.
Yesterday Motshekga confirmed that he had called on the public protector to investigate after experts, quoted in the media, valued the site at about R50-million.
"Should the deal be allowed to proceed, taxpayers will have to pay over R50-million more than the estimated value of the property," Motshekga said in his letter to the public protector.
"The office of the chief whip finds it gravely unacceptable and unfair to expect the public to pay more than double the property's market value - which looks extremely inflated."
Motshekga said that, because of the "extraordinarily and unjustifiably high price involved" questions should be raised about the nature of the relationship between Naspers and the DA.
He accused Naspers of being guilty of "shameful greed".
On Sunday, the city's deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, said the land has been earmarked for the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
"The amount offered by the city for the site has been determined after extensive analysis by the city's own valuers, as well as by an independent valuer, and is in line with market prices," said Neilson.
He said he believed the ANC was guilty of political opportunism of "the worst kind" and that the party should instead focus its attention on settling its R1.8-million bill from the convention centre.
The ANC held its provincial congress there two years ago.
Neilson said yesterday that the property next to the recently acquired site was sold by the ANC provincial government in 2008 for R105-million.
He said both sites were virtually identical and sold for almost the same price.
Kgalalelo Masibi, spokesman for the public protector, confirmed that she had received Motshekga's complaint and that a preliminary inquiry will be made.
The convention centre's CEO, Rashid Toefy, said the deal was done on a market-related price.
Comments by Sonny
Another possible "SHAREMAX" con scheme?
Or just some ANC diversion away from real corruption in SA?
Did anyone ever investigate Motshekga's assets?
Sishen Part 3: Prosecutor takes flak
LIONEL FAULL & SAM SOLE JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Feb 10 2012 00:00
Allegations by Imperial Crown Trading of "an unnaturally close relationship" between top prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach and an advocate representing rival company Kumba culminated in last week's announcement by the National Prosecuting Authority that Breytenbach has been suspended.
Breytenbach's position has since been clouded by confusion, with a second announcement by the NPA that it had issued the advocate with a letter of intention to suspend her, although she could make a case challenging it.
The move has raised fears that she has suffered collateral damage in a fight by Imperial, and specifically by its politically connected directors and shareholders, to avoid criminal prosecution.
Sishen Part 1: The lawyer people trusted
Sishen Part 2: Mystery death of a lonely official
Imperial is locked in a legal battle with the Hawks over the legality of co-ordinated search and seizure raids on it and the department of mineral resources in July last year.
Hawks investigating officer Sandra van Wyk obtained the warrant for the raids on the grounds that Imperial was alleged to have colluded with department officials to commit fraud, forgery, uttering and corruption in respect of their and Kumba's applications for rights to the Sishen iron ore mine.
In November last year Imperial lodged an affidavit in the Northern Cape High Court accusing Breytenbach of bias. It cited an incident during a court hearing when Breytenbach and Michael Hellens SC, an advocate maintaining a watching brief for Kumba, sat together. Imperial claims the pair "were obviously there on joint business" and "were continuously seen huddled together in discussions".
'Exerting improper influence'
"Hellens was possibly exerting improper influence on behalf of his clients, Sishen and Kumba, over Breytenbach, her staff and the police investigators," it said.
Imperial also complained about an allegedly improper approach by Hellens to advocate Nazir Cassim to try to persuade one of its directors, Archie Luhlabo, to turn state witness.
Imperial said Hellens had no right to float such an offer, which was the prerogative of the NPA, and that his conduct further demonstrated his improper relationship with Breytenbach.
Hellens and Breytenbach declined to comment.
The NPA also declined to comment, but released a statement this week, saying "an internal disciplinary process is a matter between the employer and the employee, and the details pertaining to that disciplinary matter are to be treated with confidentiality".
In a reply to questions, Kumba said the interaction between prosecutor and counsel "is common practice".
Hellens: 'Well-known and reputable'
"Hellens is a well-known and reputable senior counsel that specialises in criminal matters. Due to that specialisation, Kumba would assume that Hellens and Breytenbach have often been required to interact on a professional basis, either as opposing parties on matters, or on the same side," the company said.
Regarding Cassim, Kumba said the company's understanding was that there was an informal discussion between him and Hellens "as colleagues".
"Advocate Hellens spoke to advocate Cassim on the understanding that advocate Cassim was representing Mr Luhlabo on the basis of information which suggested that Mr Luhlabo might be considering turning state witnesses. Advocate Hellens could not offer any S204, as such an offer would only be made by the state."
More broadly, Imperial's complaint of bias by both Breytenbach and Van Wyk stems from the fact that, although both the company and Kumba have laid charges of fraud against each another in connection with the disputed 21.4% stake in Sishen, the Hawks have raided only Imperial.
The M&G understands that Imperial also presented its complaint in person to former director of public prosecutions Menzi Simelane.
This was reportedly done in the presence of Breytenbach’s direct boss, Lawrence Mrwebi, who was recently appointed head of the NPA's serious commercial crimes unit.
Soon afterwards, Breytenbach was threatened with suspension, but a compromise was reached -- she stepped down as the prosecutor of the Imperial case while retaining her position as head of the Gauteng's serious commercial crimes unit.
In December the NPA provisionally dropped fraud charges against suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli. Although Breytenbach was the prosecutor in this case, Mdluli approached Mrwebi directly to have the charges dropped.
Breytenbach is understood to have resisted this and tried to have them reinstated.
The announcement of Breytenbach's suspension last week coincided with the announcement that the remaining charge of murder against Mdluli had also been provisionally dropped. It led to speculation that Breytenbach has been suspended for refusing to back down in this matter.
However, it is understood that Breytenbach was not assigned as prosecutor in the Mdluli murder case and the NPA, in its correspondence with Breytenbach over her suspension, referred only to her alleged conduct in the Imperial matter.
Breytenbach has apparently challenged her bosses to provide reasons for suspending her. They have responded by asking her to give reasons why she should not be suspended.
'That's all we wanted'
Imperial's attorney, Ronnie Mendelow, said: "Breytenbach was removed from the investigation against our client and replaced by another state advocate, who will act without fear, favour or prejudice. That is all our clients required from the national director of public prosecutions."
An advocate who has represented clients Breytenbach has prosecuted said: "She's odd. Before court she’ll call you 'babe' and be friendly. Then she'll drill the living shit out of you in court. Then afterwards she'll be friendly again.
"Basically, she's a rock solid prosecutor that lawyers fear on the one hand and love on the other."
* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.
The Truth has now been reavealed in 2012
Author: Julius Cobbett
|26 August 2008 14:27 Sharemax: bully or victim?
Now controversial property syndication group accuses ITInews of being in cahoots with Deon Basson.
Defending the interests of property syndication giant Sharemax is almost a full-time job for Coenie Willemse of Botha Willemse and Wilkinson Attorneys.
In Willemse's eyes, Sharemax is the victim of an unlawful smear campaign relentlessly waged by former financial journalist Deon Basson.
This alleged campaign has, in Willemse's opinion, received support from diverse parties including financial advisers, journalists, liquidators, forensic accountants and even rival property investment companies.
These parties have kept Willemse extremely busy defending the interests of his client. The number of threatening letters and court documents seems to grow each week. The latest is addressed to ITInews editor Brent Wilson, who had the temerity to refer his readers to Basson's website where they may find unflattering reports on Sharemax.
In his latest salvo, Willemse accuses Wilson of being a mouthpiece of Basson. Willemse warns Wilson not to be surprised if he finds himself a co-defendant in Sharemax's ongoing legal battle against Basson.
"Is our assumption correct that you are for all practical purposes in partnership with Mr Basson in this matter, and in regard to the book? Why else would you invite your readers not only to read the offending chapters, but to purchase the remaining chapters via links created on your website?," Willemse asks Wilson.
Willemse accuses Wilson of harbouring a one-sided perception that the relevant chapters of Basson's book were "tame stuff".
"Just consider for a moment that Mr Basson is wrong (and the Court must all decide on the issue), can you really in honesty proclaim that Basson's portrayal of our client, in the rogue's gallery of corporate failures, is ‘tame'?," asks Willemse.
"Our concern is not so much that you don't seem to realise to what extent you have been drawn in to an obsession on the part of Mr Basson, but rather that you continue to ignore our warnings."
Wilson responds: "Perhaps Sharemax will also sue Moneyweb for publishing the transcript of the interview with Deon Basson on SAfm." Click here to read the transcript (Sharemax was invited to participate in the radio discussion but declined).
"Will they sue Martin Welz when Noseweek publishes its article on Sharemax in its next issue coming out later this week?"
Willemse has previously accused the following people of making untruthful and defamatory statements:
•Forensic accountant Andre Prakke and financial adviser Andre Matthews, both of whom authored separate reports on Sharemax.
•Sharemax rival Bluezone Property Investments. Bluezone accused Sharemax of sabotaging one of its investment schemes. Willemse denied this allegation.
•Independent contract facilitator Adriaan Schutte who made allegedly untrue comments about Sharemax during a conference.
Right of Reply
Author: Dawie Roodt|07 March 2012 12:15 The truth behind my Sharemax divorce - Dawie Roodt
Relations with directors and lawyer Connie Myburgh became " progressively intolerable".
Dear Mr Cobbett
I refer to your article of March 1st on Moneyweb; “Was Dawie Roodt fired from Sharemax?
It is indeed unfortunate that I am in effect forced to react to allegations made against me in this way. I would also appreciate it if you could carry this reply on your website. Based on your article Mr Myburgh and Ms Haese either said or implied that I was dismissed from the boards of companies related to Sharemax. This is incorrect, the correct facts and version of events are provided below. Please note that I have documentary proof of all the facts that I list hereunder.
As you know I was appointed as an independent director to the Sharemax syndicated and other related companies during 2010 primarily to assist in the restructuring of the Sharemax group of companies. Over the months I became uncomfortable with the manner in which certain issues within the group of companies were handled and early July last year I wrote an email to Judge Hartzenberg, the Chairman, wherein I listed some of my concerns. The very next day, before a scheduled board meeting, the other directors asked to see me.
At this meeting I was presented with two documents. On the one document I tendered my resignation and on the other I was “dismissed”. The “dismissal” document was signed by Dominique Haese, Dirk Koekemoer (both executive directors) and Rudi Badenhorst (a non-executive independent director). Judge Hartzenberg did not sign this document. I was given a choice to sign either of these two documents, which I refused to do. I then left the meeting and told the other directors that I will revert back to them once I have decided what to do.
It is important to note that Mr Koekemoer and Ms Haese did not have the power to dismiss me since they were not directors of the holding company, which had the right to appoint directors. Furthermore, the letter of my “dismissal” was signed by only one director which was entitled thereto, Mr Badenhorst, while the other director, Judge Hartzenberg, did not sign the document. And lastly, no due process in terms of the law was followed before I was “dismissed”; informing me of complaints against me, providing me with an opportunity to react thereto etc.
After this episode I decided to tender my resignation which I did a few days later. Clearly the allegations by Mr Myburgh and allegedly by Ms Haese are incorrect.
I can, however, confirm that I was asked about my resignation by a caller during a radio interview with Magnus Heystek, as you indicated in your article. Just as we were leaving the studio Mr Myburgh called me and threatened to tell Magnus that I was “fired”. I then told Mr Myburgh to tell Mr Heystek himself since he was standing next to me and I then handed my phone to Mr Heystek.
I have not been fired from the Sharemax related companies as alleged. I resigned after relations between me and some of the board members and the lawyer, Mr Myburgh, became progressively intolerable.
Response by the Sharemax board.
Dear Mr. Cobbett,
We note that Mr. Roodt insisted that his communication of 6 March 2012 be published, presumably by yourselves. This position taken by Mr Roodt is noted.
The board reiterates its stance that it keeps information that is confidential, for whatever reason, exactly as such, namely confidential, including Mr Roodt’s relationship with the historical Sharemax Group.
We will not be communicating with Mr Roodt through the media, save to likewise request that this response is published, verbatim, in context and without any alterations, be it as to content and composition.
Contrary to your apparent view, we do not believe that this matter has any relevance whatsoever, and we will not entertain any further communication in this regard.
The board reserves all its rights.
Managing & Financial Director
Frontier Asset Management (Pty) Ltd