Johannesburg – The Vhavenda King Toni Peter Mphephu-Ramabulana says he is willing to pay back the money he received from the Venda Building Society (VBS) if it is proven to be illegitimate payments.

The king is named as one of the 53 people that received illegal payments from VBS. He is said to have pocketed R17 million. He has previously denied receiving the money.

The SA Reserve Bank released the extensive report titled “The Great Bank Heist” on Wednesday and it detailed how R2 billion was illegally paid out to 53 individuals between 2015 and 2018.

Ramabulana said in a statement on Monday that he receives various gifts from a number of people and views these as legitimate.

“In my capacity as the King of the Vhavenda people, I receive grants including financial support from various individuals and entities. Any such receipts, I deem them to be legitimate, untainted and bona fide support to the responsibilities I hold in relation to the Vhavenda people,” said the king.

“Any such amounts as may be shown to have been payments flowing from fraudulent or criminal sources involving the Vhavenda Building Society, I would have received without my knowledge of the criminal activity which the report identifies.”

He said he is willing to repay the funds if it is proven to be illegitimate payments.

“I irrevocably offer to repay any amount which will be shown to have been proceeds of the illegalities in the report as soon as they are computed and am directed to where the repayment must be made the terms of such a repayment,” said the king.

Advocate Terry Moatu, who conducted the investigation into VBS, has been criticised for not speaking to some of the those accused. Ramabulana said he was entitled to “fair treatment” and has complained that he was not interviewed for his version of events.

“It is regretted that Advocate Motau and Werksman Attorneys did not deem it necessary to afford me an opportunity to be interviewed and to also give my version and correct the conclusions which they were to make in the report. I am advised that the laws of natural justice require a person against whom adverse statements are to be made to be given an opportunity to reply. This sadly this did not happen,” said the king.

It is unclear if he plans to take legal action on the matter.

Ramabulana said the fall of VBS and the allegations against it were contrary to its founding objectives which his own father helped form.

“The financial ruin and the cold theft to the vulnerable of our people are inimical to the vision my father had as the founding member of the building society,” he said.

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