New front for Zondo probe as EFF leaders’ finances face scrutiny
The Zondo commission is going after EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu in its investigation of state capture.
In a move that opens up a new area of inquiry beyond the acts of former president Jacob Zuma and his allies, subpoenas were issued to the country’s major banks to provide all Malema’s financial records.
Subpoenas seen by the Sunday Times show the Zondo commission is also after the financial records of Malema’s wife, Mantoa, his late grandmother, Sarah, his lawyer, Ian Levitt, his Ratanang Family Trust and a number of other companies linked to him through his associates.
Also on the list is Shivambu, his brother Brian and Brian’s companies, which allegedly illegally benefited from the R2.3bn VBS Mutual Bank heist. There are at least 36 individuals and entities whose financial records the commission’s investigators are scrutinising to determine if money from state coffers found its way into their accounts.
The investigators are studying the bank records after information was provided by whistleblowers, an investigation insider said this week.
Last week, the Sunday Times reported that the commission’s investigators had issued subpoenas for bank accounts connected to Zuma, his trusts and three of his daughters.
On Friday, Zuma lambasted the commission and this newspaper in a statement, saying his children were off-limits.
Celebgossip has learnt that Malema and his associates are also under the Zondo microscope. The subpoenas issued to the banks earlier this year instruct them to hand over financial records belonging to the EFF leader and his associates dating to the day the accounts were opened. Failure to comply would be a violation of the Commissions Act.
A banking sector source said: “They want to know whether the person or persons have any account facilities with the bank … They also want the bank to specify whether the person was using internet banking or not. This is important because they want to see which cellphone number was receiving the transaction notifications.
“They want full details about whether accounts were closed, and [if so] where the funds were deposited to. They want all records of forex transactions.”
Another source close to the commission’s investigations told the Sunday Times the banks had complied and investigators were now analysing the relevant bank records.
“These investigations are complex and we can’t conclude them without looking at what the benefits were,” this source said.
“The benefits are of course financial, so the biggest source of that information is financial services, and of course numbers never lie — the information stays there.”
Until now there has been no indication that Malema, Shivambu, their families and associates were a target of the state capture inquiry. A source close to the investigation said the financial benefits being probed relate to a number of state contracts.
Malema told the Sunday Times he was not aware of any subpoenas for his bank records or those of his wife and grandmother.
“Why would he [Zondo] go and look for our statements when no-one has implicated us? They should have asked me, I would have given it to them. I am responsible for my grandmother’s estate and I would have given it to them,” he said.
“They go to the banks and ask about us and you know what the banks do? They get those things [subpoenas] and get agitated and then they start wanting to close your accounts.
“Even if Zondo calls me to the commission I will go there without a lawyer and answer for anything. I fought for that commission because I don’t have anything to hide. 101 Junjus Trading is a company I registered a long time ago when I was young and it has been deregistered.”
Levitt also said he was unaware about subpoenas regarding his accounts.
People and companies with alleged links
to Malema under the commission’s scrutiny include his cousins Matsobane Phaleng and Phumi “Jimmy” Matlebyane, and the companies Santaclara Trading, Vilakazi Restaurant 6877 in Soweto, SGL Engineering and 101 Junjus Trading. (Malema told the Sunday Times he had registered 101 Junjus Trading a long time ago and had later deregistered it.)
Companies linked to Floyd and Brian Shivambu include Grand Azania and Sgameka Projects.
The Shivambu brothers, Phaleng and Matlebyane did not respond to calls and WhatsApp messages sent on Friday and Saturday requesting comment.
In November last year, the Sunday Times reported on how millions of rands flowed from accounts belonging to Levitt and other companies doing work for the Limpopo provincial government into Santaclara Trading, a company registered to Matlebyane.
The company’s bank statements, which became part of the investigation of the looting of VBS Bank, showed that between March and September 2017 many payments were made to the company, often in multiples of R100,000.
In March 2017 alone, Levitt appears to have deposited R300,000 into the account. At the time Levitt declined to comment on “matters which are clearly privileged and confidential”. Just over R4m in payments to Santaclara were flagged as “concerning” in an accompanying analysis of the statements.
Another depositor was LTE Consulting, the company behind the controversial R2.2bn project to supply water to northern Limpopo, which deposited R200,000 into the account.
Floyd Shivambu, through his brother’s company Grand Azania, allegedly received R1.1m from VBS and a further R3.3m payment.
Another company belonging to Brian, Sgameka Projects, received a R4m loan from VBS in 2017, R1.78m of which the courts ordered him to pay back. In addition, Floyd allegedly benefited from R680,000 of VBS money that Brian used to buy him a Range Rover Sport.
Grand Azania also paid R500,000 to Santaclara, suggesting that this is how money from VBS found its way into the hands of Malema or the EFF.
At the time, Malema insisted he had “no relationship” with Santaclara, which fell under the spotlight after Matlebyane, a 27-yearold DJ, applied for a bond to buy a four-bedroom, four-bathroomhouse for R3.2m in the upmarket Polokwane suburb of Bendor. Another Matlebyane company, Vuur Trading and Projects, has also had its bank accounts subpoenaed.
All the major banks told the Sunday Times they are co-operating with the Zondo commission and supplying any information requested. The banks have declined to comment on the individuals and companies specified in the subpoenas.