Firm accused of BEE fronting

2014-06-08 15:00

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George Moss (72) thought he was broke?–?then he discovered he held 11% of the shares in a company that had done business with mining giants, including Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) in Limpopo.

Amplats phoned Moss in 2012, asking whether he worked for Hanwill Mafofela Mining, which specialises in loading and hauling. “I told them I did, as a gardener and sometimes a driver. They asked how much I was paid and I told them R4?000 [a month]. Then they asked if I was a director. I told them I didn’t know what that meant. They told me I owned 11% of the company,” he said.

This conversation, and a subsequent investigation by Amplats, led to Mafofela Mining losing its contracts with the mining house late in 2012. Now the company is being investigated for a second time. The department of trade

and industry’s BEE division, tasked with probing allegations of fronting, confirmed to City Press this week that Mafofela Mining was under investigation.

The department confirmed that Mafofela Mining had been accused of fronting?(using black employees and the resulting BEE status to obtain contracts).

A complaint has been laid with the department, according to its spokesperson Sidwell Medupe, and it is “currently investigating the matter”.

Speaking to City Press at his modest home near Mahikeng in North West, Moss claimed that in 2003 his former boss, Willem van Niekerk, had called him and two other employees into his office and told them they were moving into management. “Willie [Van Niekerk] said there were other people who wanted to sign the contracts, but he wanted us because we had worked for him and he trusted us. He said that all the profits of the company would go into a bucket and at the end of the year, we would all come together and share the money in the bucket,” said Moss.

Moss is illiterate, but signed the contract that was put in front of him.

He claimed that in 2003, each of the three received R4?000; in 2006, they received R10?000 each; and in 2008, they each received R20?000 and a 1400 Nissan bakkie.

After the phone call from Amplats, Moss asked to retire and take his pension. He had been with Mafofela Mining since 1983. He says he was told there was no pension available. He lives off his children and a state pension.

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said the company had ended its relationship with Mafofela Mining in 2012 after being tipped off that it was allegedly involved in BEE fronting. “An internal investigation ensued, which led Anglo American Platinum to flag the supplier on our systems and all contracts with the supplier were terminated in 2012.”

Mafofela Mining is listed by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission as having three BEE partners. Combined, they own 31% of the company?–?Moss is among those listed.

But Van Niekerk told City Press those three shareholders had resigned and Mafofela Mining now had two new BEE partners.

Van Niekerk’s lawyer, Theo Potgieter, confirmed there were new shareholders. He followed this up with an email that reads in part: “We categorically deny and refute all the insinuations and accusations of ill behaviour, inclusive of any statutory breach and corporate malpractices.”

City Press tracked down the family of one new “shareholder”. Albert Monnyamane lived in the same village as Moss until his death last July.

Monnyamane’s sister, Refilwe, said Albert was given a promotion, a salary increase and a car. Then, a few months later in 2011, he was asked to sign on as a shareholder. She produced a contract that confirmed these details.

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