Flashy businessperson Hamilton Ndlovu, who shot to fame when he posted pictures of five of his luxury vehicles on social media a while back, has fallen on hard times.
Ndlovu, whose fleet included a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Lamborghini Urus and three Porsches worth an estimated R11 million in total, told the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that he needed cash to fight the preservation application brought by the unit to freeze his assets.
City Press has seen documents revealing that, on November 10, lawyers representing Ndlovu wrote to the Special Tribunal, whose statutory mandate is to recover public funds syphoned from the fiscus through corruption, fraud and illicit money flows, informing the judge that their client was currently under curatorship, following an application by the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
Ndlovu’s lawyer, Lee Binneman, wrote: “Consequent upon the preservation order having been made final, Zaheer Cassim (the sixth respondent in the present application) was appointed as the curator bonis (‘the curator’) in respect of all our clients
Consequently, all of our clients’ affairs, particularly as these pertain to their assets, are administered by the curator.”
Binneman added that the curator had assumed control of their clients’ assets, including bank accounts, and requested the release of funds for legal fees and other expenses.
“On or about November 4 2021, the curator indicated that there would be a limitation imposed by him in relation to the payment of legal fees [with regard] to the present application.
Counsel who represented our clients at the first case management meeting has withdrawn from the matter on the basis that he could not comply with the honourable judge’s directive, as it pertains to the time periods within which opposing papers have to be filed.
As such, alternative counsel has been briefed in the matter,” the letter read.
The lawyers wrote that they deemed it necessary to raise these and other matters at a case management meeting. There was not enough money for the lawyers to continue representing their clients, including Ndlovu.
Special Tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho condemned the leaking of the documents to the media.
Ndlovu’s assets and bank accounts have been frozen by Sars and the tribunal.
The curator appointed by Sars to control Ndlovu’s assets while under preservation has made a limited amount of funds available to finance his litigation.
Ndlovu contends that the amount is insufficient. As a result, he is financially constrained in his attempt to conduct his defence at the tribunal.
He intends to seek a high court order against the curator to make more funds available.
Pending that order, he has asked the tribunal to suspend the time periods for filing his opposing papers. The tribunal has declined to do so in the absence of a formal application for the stay of proceedings in which he deposes to all the facts under oath.
The tribunal has placed him under strict timelines to bring the stay application, which it will consider on the basis of the papers filed, without hearing oral arguments from the parties’ counsel.
An affidavit filed by Petrus Snyman, the SIU’s chief forensic investigator, read: “In May 2020, Ndlovu posted a video on his Facebook page in which he boasted of buying five ultraluxurious cars in a single day. The video originally posted by him may still be viewed on YouTube … Following this posting, the Special Investigating Unit received tip-offs from members of the public to the effect that Ndlovu’s wealth derived from contracts to supply personal protective equipment to the National Health Laboratory Service [NHLS] during the Covid-19 state of disaster.”
Snyman wrote that properties linked to Ndlovu and the NHLS offices had been searched, and several documents had been seized by the Hawks. The documents were subsequently handed to the SIU.
“Evidence obtained by the Special Investigating Unit provides grounds for the review and setting aside [of Ndlovu’s procurement transactions] as unlawful and fraudulently obtained … Procurement transactions between the NHLS and eight companies were all linked to Ndlovu, in terms of which a total amount of R172 742 175 was paid to the companies.
“The impugned transactions entail the unlawful and irregular procurement of the front companies to supply personal protective equipment to the NHLS during the period of March 2020 to April 2020, and payments made to the front companies in respect of the impugned transactions between March 31 2020 and June 29 2020. [They] thus fall within the scope of the proclamation.”
Snyman wrote that, as the investigation progressed, Ndlovu had tried to disassociate himself from some of the implicated businesses by resigning as a director, but leaving his close family and friends (including his girlfriend) as directors.
Snyman added that the front companies were not on the NHLS supplier database, nor on Treasury’s list of personal protective equipment suppliers. They had no experience or track record in supplying such equipment.
None of them, except Hamiltonn Holdings, had been registered for VAT, yet they still tendered to supply goods beyond the threshold for registration as VAT vendors.