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RAF caught up in corruption, identity theft claims

An intricate web of corruption and claims of identity theft involving the Road Accident Fund (RAF), the City of Joburg (CoJ) and Investec Bank has been uncovered after a Pretoria-based law firm discovered that the RAF allegedly had 16 bank accounts with Investec Bank under two profiles.

The scandal was uncovered after an innocuous bank attachment by the law firm, which was seeking to secure money which was owed to its clients by the RAF. It is suspected that the money which was meant for claimants was deposited into these suspicious accounts held at Investec Bank to hide the funds from the rightful owners, the claimants.

On December 31, 2019, the RAF had claims to the value of R17.2 billion that were finalised, but could not be paid due to financial cash flow challenges and liability grew to R293bn, as stated in its Annual Performance Plan 2020-21.

Documents seen by Independent Media’s investigations unit show two profiles for bank accounts with the RAF reference, with the first profile named “The City Of Johannesburg/Road Accident Fund” under which there are three accounts. This profile was declared to be belonging to the CoJ even though the name contravenes the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) and poses as a suspicious account. It also contravenes the FICA principle of “know your client”.

The second profile was named “Road Accident Fund Pty Ltd 1992/002160/07” under which there are 13 accounts. This profile was confirmed by Investec to be belonging to the RAF, as seen in email correspondence from Investec Bank.

When reached an Investec spokesperson said Investec and City of Joburg had provided evidence that the disputed accounts were not held by the RAF.

“An application brought urgently by the lawyer and opposed by the City of Johannesburg, RAF and Investec was heard in the High Court, Pretoria, and the lawyer’s version was dismissed with punitive costs against him.”

The RAF, through its chief executive Collins Letsoalo, confirmed the existence of the accounts. However, he said the accounts were dormant and had been dormant for years. This was contrary to what he had said in a TV interview on February 14, 202, where Letsaolo flatly denied the existence of these accounts.

Apart from Letsoalo, other executives allegedly at the forefront of this scandal are finance manager Sefotle Modiba and acting chief financial officer (CFO) Boitumelo Mabusela, who were allegedly unilaterally appointed by Letsoalo during the lockdown.

Notably Mabusela was appointed when there already was an acting CFO within the organisation who had been appointed internally by the previous board. Mabusela was a director at Intersite – a company whose identity was allegedly stolen by the RAF when opening an account with Investec. The registration number used by the RAF to open the account belonged to Intersite – an asset management company belonging to Prasa.

It is understood that the attorneys brought this to the attention of the RAF, Prasa, CoJ. We have seen the communication between Investec Bank attorneys and these attorneys wherein the Pretoria-based firm was asking Investec to explain the discrepancy. Investec, through its attorneys became evasive and combative towards the attorneys even though there was a clear identity theft by the RAF.

When reached, RAF spokesperson William Seripele Maphutha said since Letsoalo’s secondment and subsequent appointment as RAF chief executive had never opened any bank account, with any bank, and he simply could not open a bank account for RAF without the RAF board and National Treasury approval as per the PFMA and its regulations.

Maphutha welcomed any investigation by the Hawks or any other law enforcement agency and said the RAF and its officials would co-operate fully with any such investigation.

“We are not aware of any case including the one you mention in your inquiry that has been opened against the CEO and other RAF officials. We are consequently also not aware of any case being transferred to the Hawks.

“We are, however, glad that finally these rumours and spurious allegations are now reported to the law enforcement authorities and the pedlars of these rumours and allegations have finally come under oath. Our rights are fully reserved in this regard,” he said.

The matter of identity theft by RAF was brought to the attention of the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, which declined to take action and referred the matter to South African Reserve Bank Prudential Authority, which in turn also referred the matter to the Ombudsman.

The identity theft matter was also brought to the attention of Intersite secretary Gary Mabunda and this was confirmed by email correspondence seen by us where Mabunda thanks the Pretoria-based firm for bringing the matter to their attention.

Mabunda brought it to the attention of Investec who refused to give him a meaningful explanation regarding the identity theft by the RAF and instead they referred Mabunda to CIPC for clarity. In essence, it appears as if the bank was absolving itself from this shocking revelation.

When an inquiry was sent to the RAF by Mabunda, they deferred the response to their attorneys who responded by saying that the RAF was not registered as a PTY LTD, something that raised questions about why they used the profile name “Road Accident Fund Pty Ltd 1992/002160/07” when they opened an account at Investec Bank and most importantly, why did they use the registration number Intersite to open that account?

Independent Media’s investigations unit also established that Investec Bank, the Presidency, the Minister of Transport, Intersite, the Prasa board chairperson, the City of Joburg were notified about these illegal activities, however, nothing tangible has happened to bring those involved to book.

Investigations Unit – investigations@inl.co.za

 

Fallout over Zuma’s Nkandla defence widens, pitting Buthelezi against Zulu regiments ’commander’

The Zulu royal family has found itself even more entangled in the Jacob Zuma issue as Mgilija Nhleko, the “Commander of Zulu regiments”, hit back at Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, insisting that he is the commander of the structure.

He claimed that he was given the position by the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and Buthelezi should have questioned that while the king was still around.

Nhleko is the famed “commander” of the regiments and he shot to fame in mid-March this year when the regiments paid a culturally colourful last respects to the late king during his “planting” in Nongoma.

It was during that time that the position started to gain prominence, so much that Nhleko started receiving invitations to take part in prominent cultural events.

On Saturday, Nhleko showed up at Zuma’s Nkandla home in full traditional gear, even wearing a traditionally sacred headgear normally reserved for special cultural ceremonies and only worn if the Zulu King is taking part.

The Nkandla appearance, in some quarters, set tongues wagging and legitimised claims by Zuma supporters that their defence would be joined by the famed regiments who are known for their fighting strengths.

However, that led to Buthelezi’s frowning, saying Nhleko was not sanctioned to be there and this was his second act of defiance as in the middle of last month he joined an unauthorised royal hunting expedition as part of a royal cleansing ceremony.

When asked about that, Buthelezi claimed that Nhleko had said that according to his understanding, the Zulu nation was without a king, implying that he did not recognise King Misuzulu who is currently on the throne pending coronation.

During a press conference in Ulundi yesterday, where Buthelezi said he was speaking as an “elder”, he first said he sympathised with Zuma and his family, but lashed out at his supporters.

Buthelezi said their defence amounted to challenging the authority of the state if they say Zuma should not serve his 15-month sentence for contempt of court.

Giving some historical background, Buthelezi said Zuma was not the first senior leader to be sent to jail, yet when others in history had been jailed, there had been no rebellions. Among the many incidents of jailing was that of King Cetshwayo in 1879.

“When King Cetshwayo was arrested and sent into exile, neither the king’s regiments nor his people threatened a physical uprising, for it would have been hopeless and end in utter destruction.”

Regarding Nhleko, Buthelezi said they had no idea who had installed him and the Zulu king had since summoned him to explain himself.

“We don’t know when he was installed as the commander, we don’t know… he can’t on his own lead them (regiments). It was he and his friends who went there, that small crowd was not a (Zulu) regiment. It was him and his friends calling themselves a regiment of the king… they were not a regiment of the king.

“As I have said, today the king called me to a meeting but I had to come here (press conference). The king wants him (Mgilija) to explain his trip (to Nkandla). That will happen this week,” Buthelezi said.

Nhleko said it puzzled him why the position was now being contested and denied claims made by Buthelezi that he had told those who questioned his participation in the recent royal hunt that the Zulu nation is currently without a king.

“If he says I am not the commander of the regiments, who is holding the position then? If Buthelezi wants the position he must take it… let him take it now. This is shocking… why were they quiet all along when the King (Zwelithini) was still around,” Nhleko said in response to Buthelezi’s claims.

When Zuma was asked by the media on Sunday about the presence of the regiments at his home, he said that question was irrelevant as he was Zulu himself, a member of the regiments, so they came to see “a colleague”.

Political Bureau

By Sihle Mavuso

 

Business, sales hit by stricter measures to curb infection surge

BUSINESS activity and sales were hit by the reintroduction of stricter measures in South Africa in June, when the country was put back to adjusted Level 4 lockdown.

The IHS Markit Purchasers Managers Index (PMI) yesterday (MON0 showed the first output fall in 2021, falling for the second-consecutive month, to 51.0 index points in June from 53.2 points in May.

Level 4 lockdown saw businesses in the hospitality, tourism and alcohol-related industries take a hit as restrictions on gatherings and sale of liquor were enforced.

Though it stayed above the 50 level that indicates expansion, the PMI signalled a loss of momentum in the rate of improvement in operating conditions across the private sector economy.

IHS said new business growth largely stalled after two-successive months of expansion, while there was a renewed drop in export sales.

Raw material shortages led to a solid increase in backlogs, prompting firms to raise employment at the quickest rate since November 2012.

Supply issues and salary increases pushed up input prices at a marked pace in June, although the overall rate of inflation eased slightly from May’s recent high.

Output charges continued to rise sharply as firms often passed the costs onto their customers.

The expansion was the ninth in as many months, but the weakest since March.

IHS Markit economist David Owen said business activity fell for the first time in six months amid stricter lockdown measures as the third wave of the pandemic hit South Africa's economy in June.

Owen said that more importantly, the fall in output was modest and softer than those seen throughout much of 2020.

“This suggests that the economy is becoming more resilient to the pandemic and may not suffer too badly from renewed lockdown restrictions,” he said.

‘That said, the move to Level 4 at the end of June will likely lead to a sharper decline in activity over July.”

Owen said supply shortages remained a key concern, with delivery times, backlogs, purchasing and prices all impacted in June.

Supply problems were also highlighted by survey panellists, meaning that some firms were unable to fulfil new orders.

Output decreased for the first time in six months during June, as the tightening of Covid-19 measures hit customer demand.

Though only modest, the fall in output was the fastest since last August.

“On the positive side, lead times lengthened to least extent since January 2020, while input price inflation eased for the first time in four months, offering some hope that supply-side issues will lessen in the second half of the year,” Owen said.

siphelele.dludla@inl.co.za

BUSINESS REPORT

   

Sasol, IDC deal to develop hydrogen economy in SA

PETROCHEMICALS giant Sasol and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on developing and shaping an enabling environment for South Africa’s green hydrogen economy.

In a statement yesterday, the parties said the agreement was based on the mutual recognition that South Africa was well placed to harness its world-class renewable energy endowment and infrastructure, as well as Sasol’s Fischer-Tropsch technology and capabilities, to position the country as a worldwide leader in the hydrogen economy.

Sasol and the IDC would collaborate on a non-exclusive basis to advocate for policy frameworks that enable a hydrogen economy, develop pilot and bring to commercial scale hydrogen projects to pioneer viable and sustainable solutions, access local and international financing options, and pursue strategic projects that benefit the country’s energy transit system.

Priscillah Mabelane, Sasol’s executive vice-president: energy business, said: “Green hydrogen provides an exciting opportunity for the country to create new hydrogen ecosystems and become a credible exporter of sustainable energy and chemical products, such as hydrogen, ammonia and sustainable aviation fuel, while increasing much-needed employment opportunities.”

Mabelane said Sasol intended to be at the forefront of creating South Africa’s hydrogen ecosystems through strategic partnerships, leveraging proprietary technology and an integrated value chain.

“We are delighted to partner with the IDC in jointly pursuing South Africa’s green hydrogen potential to support a just energy transition and unlock new value chains to ignite the country’s economy,” Mabelane said.

Sasol is under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint and has a roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa by at least 10 percent by 2030 – working off a 2017 baseline.

Sasol and vehicle manufacturer Toyota South Africa earlier this year signed a deal to develop a pilot project for the development of hydrogen-powered heavy-duty long-haul trucks as part of an ambitious plan to explore the development of a South African green hydrogen eco-mobility system.

The IDC said yesterday the development of the hydrogen industry was a key enabler in South Africa’s just transition to a decarbonised future, which had the potential to decarbonise various industrial sectors.

Joanne Bate, the IDC’s chief operations officer, said: “The IDC intends on getting involved in the development of those catalytic projects needed to develop this new industry. We are looking forward to working together with Sasol in identifying and co-developing such catalytic projects. Our involvement in the development of the hydrogen industry also provides opportunities to fulfil our development mandate, which entails job creation and opportunities to involve previously disadvantaged entities.”

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report titled “Unlocking South Africa’s hydrogen potential” released last year found that opportunities existed for South Africa to couple renewable generation with hydrogen production through electrolysis. The report said an investment in electrolysis technology would support the platinum sector and downstream beneficiation.

PwC experts said the infrastructure needed to export hydrogen was similar to existing natural gas networks and was already being piloted in Australia and Japan. “South Africa could leverage its existing port infrastructure to support this initiative and, in doing so, protect the jobs and infrastructure that are declining as a result of the drop in the global demand for coal exports,” said the report.

banele.ginindza@inl.co.za

BUSINESS REPORT

 

Underestimate the British and Irish Lions at your own peril

 

 

It amazes me that some South Africans were surprised when the British and Irish Lions smashed the local Lions by almost 60 points in their tour opener.

It was always going to happen for two reasons: Firstly and most significantly, the Lions have an exceptionally talented, vastly experienced, meticulously prepared, and highly motivated squad who have come to this country on a mission; and secondly, the local Lions (and also the Sharks, Bulls, and Stormers) are under-strength and pale imitations of the provincial sides of the amateur era when the British Lions were given a torrid time by the likes of Transvaal, Northern Transvaal, and Western Province, while even the platteland (country) sides had enough firepower to give the tourists a working over and soften them up for the Boks.

 Let's have some context on this. Pre 1996, South Africa’s rugby strength was in South Africa. All of it. In 2021, a quarter of a century into professionalism, there are over 600 South African players earning a living abroad. That is over 600 players that are not packed into our provincial structures.

Our current provincial sides comprise largely up-and-coming players who, in time, will join the exodus to Europe and Japan to earn lucrative foreign currency. Of course some stay, a few even return as veterans (the Bulls have captured this market) but the reality is that many top South African players are not in the country.

 That is why the local Lions vs the tourists on Saturday night was men against boys, and there was only going to be one winner. When there is a major difference in class, 110 percent effort from the outclassed can only get you so far and, usually in the last quarter of the game, class runs riot.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why there is arrogance in some quarters in South Africa as to how the Test series is going to pan out. Those who predict a Springbok annihilation of the Lions are either ignorant or foolish, or both, and the fact that some of that opinion are members of the media is frankly an embarrassment.

 It will be a close-fought series, yes, but never will it be a Bok rout of the Lions and, interestingly, every sports betting agency in the world has the Lions as slight favourites to win the series...

Four years ago, the Lions drew a series with an All Blacks team at the height of their considerable powers and playing at home; before that, they won a series in Australia (2013). Now, under the same coach, they have come to South Africa with a single-minded purpose of beating the Boks after having come so close in 2009.

Warren Gatland was an assistant coach on that 2009 tour and hasn't forgotten the bitterness of the heart-breaking defeat in the second Test at Loftus, Morne Steyn's series-clinching moment of glory...

To state the obvious, the Lions squad comprises the very best players from four top ten countries: England is third on the World Rugby rankings, Wales fourth, Ireland fifth, and Scotland ninth.

That means Warren Gatland is coaching the cream of the crop of the northern hemisphere bar the French. If this was a Barbarians team or a World XV on a fun jamboree to the highveld to open a new stadium or such trivial matter, it would be different. But this is the Lions and every minute of every game each one of these top international players is hellbent on performing to his utmost so that he can impress and make the Test team.

The lifeblood of a Lions tour is competition for places in the Test team and the wisest thing Gatland has done is to reassure his squad that he is open-minded and that every player has a shot at making it.

These blokes aren’t here on a “jol,” they are here to beat the world champions and the South Africans still hanging on to the World Cup euphoria of 2019 and expecting a Springbok romp are living in cloud cuckoo land.

Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber know it — Rassie getting close to the action as a water boy at the Georgia game tells me how frantic he is getting — and the rest of South Africa need to sit up and give the Lions the respect they deserve.

@MikeGreenaway67

IOL Sport


 

   

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