Stolen VBS money paid for EFF birthday bash – report

An investigation by Scorpio has revealed that money stolen from VBS Mutual Bank funded the EFF’s fourth birthday bash at a popular party venue in Umlazi, Durban, in July 2017.

According to Daily Maverick, this forms part of a chunk of the illegal R16.1m received by Sgameka Projects – a company owned by Brian Shivambu, the brother of EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu – from VBS, that was ultimately channelled to the EFF.

Scorpio has reportedly isolated about R4.13m in VBS loot paid toward the EFF.

While EFF leader Julius Malema has denied that his party ever benefited from VBS funds, most notably in a pre-election interview with Radio 702, Scorpio claims VBS money flowed through companies over which Malema and Floyd Shivambu have ultimate control “in a scheme designed to mask the origin and ultimate beneficiaries of the funds”.

According to Daily Maverick, VBS money was used to fund the EFF’s fourth birthday bash, paid for printing of T-shirts, transport and what was reportedly described as “Jhb Office Rental”.

The source of these VBS funds was reportedly obscured when two proxy companies for Malema and Shivambu were used to effect the payments.

According to a damning forensic report by advocate Terry Motau and law firm Werksmans Attorneys, Brian Shivambu, owner of Sgameka projects, received R16m, News24 reported in October last year.

The report, titled “The Great Bank Heist”, was published following investigations into the bank.

EFF was main beneficiary

According to the latest report by Scorpio, “An analysis of Sgameka’s bank account shows the main beneficiaries were the EFF, Grand Azania (a company which is an alter ego of Floyd), and Mahuna Investments (an alter ego of the EFF Commander-in-Chief, Julius Malema).”

According to Scorpio, its investigative reporter, Pauli van Wyk, followed up on Malema’s invitation to journalists to have the party’s financials scrutinised, but she was snubbed on two occasions.

Malema reportedly replied: “I won’t be answering any questions from this moloi; she can write anything she wants to write. I’ve responded to all her questions before and won’t be doing it going forward. She extraordinarily personal (sic) and I’m not answerable to white madam. She can go to the nearest hell.”

‘Recycled news’

EFF leader Julius Malema told eNCA on Tuesday that the latest report by Daily Maverick is nothing new and that he was not going to be “entertained by recycled news”.

Malema admitted that a birthday party was held, but denied that money from VBS was used to pay for it.

“We [the EFF] paid for it.

“I’m not going to entertain this thing that every time Pravin [Gordhan] is in hot water and the EFF takes a stand, [investigative reporter] Pauli [van Wyk] goes to her dustbin to dig the old stuff… I don’t have time for that. She must go and be buried in that dustbin where she digs up recycled stories of VBS. There’s nothing new.”

Malema said if there were any wrongdoing, “the doors of the police stations are open”.

Malema also denied that he or the EFF had refused journalists access to its financial records. “[That offer] is standing. Any time.”

Malema said the elections have just been finalised. “Even Cabinet has not yet been appointed. What is the hurry? We are all getting our houses in order. So I will go back to the EFF treasurer’s office to check what went wrong with this issue.

“It’s not like a month or a year has finished. But when you are on a witch hunt, you see an hour to be equal to a year,” Malema said.

‘Money paid to Shivambu’s and Malema’s companies’ 

In its latest report, Scorpio found that Sgameka sent R1.3m in three tranches directly to two EFF bank accounts; R5.16m in 22 tranches to Grand Azania, an alter ego of Floyd Shivambu; R4.8m in nine tranches to Mahuna Investments, an alter ego of Julius Malema.

The VBS money was used to prop up the EFF as well as the lifestyle of Malema and Shivambu, Scorpio reported, saying it had evidence that would stand up to scrutiny in court.

In addition, Scorpio found that Sgameka Projects and Mahuna Investments paid R454 000 in four tranches to Eyadini Lounge between July 25 and August 1, 2017. It reported that the allocated money paid for the party’s exclusive fourth birthday party at the popular Umlazi venue held over the last weekend of July 2017.

The EFF further received R1.5m in VBS money directly into two bank accounts held by the party, according to Scorpio.

Malema’s house

Daily Maverick also reported that payments totalling about R460 000 were paid toward a house in Sandown, Johannesburg, which was rented by Malema and was now registered as an asset on the books of the EFF.

The house was reportedly bought for R5.25m, and although EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told Scorpio that the house was bought using a bank loan, it was found to be unbonded and was therefore paid for in cash.

In April, a former senior EFF leader in its central command team has accused party president Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu of financial mismanagement and accepting a donation from VBS Mutual Bank, News24 reported.

In a Facebook post, Thembinkosi Rawula accused Malema and Shivambu of abuse and running a dictatorship. Rawula, who has resigned from the organisation, was the party’s national disciplinary chairperson.

He told News24 that, over the past four years, he has was not shown a report of the party’s finances.

“We have offices, but we don’t know how much we pay for these offices. You will not find any books of the EFF. There is no consistency; there is no accountability. All you see is them living a flashy lifestyle. The lives they are leading is beyond their financial means,” Rawula said.

Malema and Shivambu have repeatedly denied any claims of wrongdoing.

“Sgameka projects does not have any working relationship with VBS Mutual Bank and has never received any payment from VBS Mutual Bank,” Shivambu said in a statement in October last year.

In November, the DA opened a criminal case against Malema and Shivambu, Shivambu’s brother Brian, and Malema’s cousin, Matsobane Phaleng, for alleged criminal offences in relation to the looting of VBS Mutual Bank.

The Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) also confirmed to News24 that a team of 16 investigators and prosecutors were investigating the matter, News24 reported earlier.

In this interview on Radio 702, Malema denies claims that the party ever received money from VBS.

During a post-elections press conference two weeks ago, Malema said the party’s increased support at the polls showed it was “doing well”, adding “we are cruising nicely”.

On Tuesday, hours after Daily Maverick published its investigation, Malema posted a veiled message to Twitter, urging his EFF supporters, referred to as “fighters”, to “go for [sic] kill” and to “hit hard”.

In it he refers to “bana ba baloi (children of witches)” who are not happy.

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