Controversy dogs ICT founder

2010-10-10 13:00

Phemelo Sehunelo, the advocate whose Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) turned Jacob Zuma’s son into a multimillionaire, is at the centre of another two controversial mining deals.

Sehunelo, the former municipal ­manager of Kimberley, is the founder of ICT, which grabbed the prospecting rights at Sishen, one of the world’s largest iron ore mines, earlier this year.

ICT was later bought for R800 million by ArcelorMittal as part of a proposed R9 billion BEE deal that will hand over hundreds of millions to Sehunelo, ­Zuma’s son, Duduzane, the Gupta family and others.

Investigations24 this week uncovered Sehunelo’s role in two other deals.

» A disputed transaction to control the majority?of?shares?in?a?company?that holds?a?multibillion-rand?prospecting licence in a manganese belt in the Kalahari.

» Accusations by a Northern Cape farmer that one of Sehunelo’s companies, Adistra 11, gained the prospecting rights illegally and that he was never ­consulted.

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act is clear that the minister may not grant prospecting rights ­unless all affected parties and landowners have been consulted extensively.

Jeremy Michaels, spokesperson for the mineral resources department, noted: “The department views these allegations in a serious light and it therefore warrants an investigation, which will be conducted at a senior level.”

When confronted this week, Sehunelo was unapologetic. “We understand ­mining and how to work with people. We are here to stay and we want to sustain good relationships.”

Adistra 11, which provided guarantees for the ICT deal and financed the first two prospecting phases at Sishen, is still ­trying to gain access to Lomoteng 669 farm outside Postmasburg.

The farm is owned by Willie Uys, who only discovered by accident that the application to prospect had been lodged on his farm.

Uys has since spent two years and ­thousands of rands trying to keep the company from executing the prospecting rights. He has instructed his attorney to seek an interdict against the registration of mining rights on his farm.

Sehunelo denies a lack of consultation. “Mr Uys referred consultation to his lawyer.

But we haven’t touched the farm. I do, however, own the mining right now. Landowners don’t have to be consulted if a mining right has not been granted.”

In the second deal, on nearby Lohatla Farm – where the Maremane community have been resettled – Sehunelo is ­embroiled in another tussle. A company called Chambua Minerals has been ­mining manganese for Mistyfalls 45, which obtained the prospecting licence.

Sehunelo is a shareholder in Mistyfalls 45, whose founder, Chris Victor, claims that he and his brother own 49% of the company, while BEE partners Gamsa Gool and Sehunelo together own 49%.

The crucial 2% swing vote that remained was originally owned by a friend of the Victors, Sagrys Eilers.

Originally, the partners were very ­positive about the company’s prospects. But after a few months, claimed the ­Victors, Chambua stopped paying their instalments and owed Mistyfalls 45 about R28 million.

They wanted to discuss the matter among the shareholders.

This is when the Victors discovered that they were no longer in control. ­

Sehunelo claimed Eilers’s 2% share of the company had mysteriously been reappropriated to the BEE partners, giving them control.

Now both sides claim to have certificates testifying to their ownership of the 2% share of Mistyfalls 45.

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