King in hot water over bad debt

2014-07-20 15:00

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AmaHlubi King Mthimkhulu III wants to claim most of South Africa’s eastern seaboard on behalf of his people.

But the royal, also known as businessman Brayce Mthimkhulu, has already lost a luxury R2.3?million Richards Bay home and his BMW X5 to the banks for failing to pay for the house he bought from local businessman Verster Erasmus eight years ago.

Now Erasmus, who won a High Court judgment for R728?817 against the then prince in May 2008, wants him sequestrated so he can claim the R1.6?million he alleges he is still owed.

The house, at number 8 Seeperdjie Street in the exclusive sea-facing suburb of Meer En See, situated next to the Mzingazi Golf Estate, was described as “lovely” by the agent who brokered the deal.

With four bedrooms – each with its own en suite bathroom – dining and entertainment areas, the house came complete with a swimming pool on a more than 450m2 property. It’s palatial, if not quite fit for a king.

Last month, the amaHlubi Royal Council met under Mthimkhulu’s leadership to file a collective land claim for large tracts of Kwa­Zulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Free State. This claim is in direct competition with a similar claim that will be lodged on behalf of the Zulus, which is being coordinated by King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Last week, Mthimkhulu went public about the amaHlubi claim, which is being coordinated by a team from the royal council in each province and made in terms of the Land Rights Amendment Act.

The amaHlubi argue that they settled in these areas in the 14th century and were never defeated by the Zulus, and thus have the right to claim their ancestral land lost to colonisers and the apartheid government.

Both claims involve the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. But neither monarch wants to expropriate productive land. Instead, they seek compensation in the form of financial and mineral rights from mines, farms and other enterprises set up on that land.

Mthimkhulu, who also made headlines for the wrong reasons over a deal gone wrong involving President Jacob Zuma’s brother Michael, told City Press that the “matter had been sorted out”.

“This was sorted out a long time ago. That guy [Erasmus] is talking nonsense. My lawyers told me that it was dealt with. I will take this individual to task,” he said.

But he was unable to provide proof that the debt was settled, and instead asked for more time to have his lawyers provide it. He later said his lawyer would not comment.

“Kindly be advised that I’m aware of Mr Erasmus and was under the impression that this matter was settled. This incident took place during a time when I went through a rough financial patch and that house was repossessed by the bank as my businesses were closing down,” he said.

“I made settlements with most of my creditors and Mr Erasmus refused an amicable settlement and went ahead raiding my assets and other businesses. I will definitely oppose this matter.

“I don’t think this has much to do with my role as amaHlubi leader as this is a personal matter and I believe he has brought this to you to get my attention. I think he could have directed his plans or concerns directly to me.”

Erasmus’ lawyer, who asked not to be named, told City Press that the debt had not been paid and that the sequestration

application was being made.

Erasmus, who built the house and sold it to raise capital to open a business in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands where he now lives, told City Press he was applying for sequestration because Mthimkhulu had not paid him despite the 2008 court order.

“I wanted R3.4?million for the house, but reduced the amount to R2.7?million because of the shortfall in the bond. We signed a legal agreement for him to pay me the balance, but he never paid me. The banks took the house and his car so the sheriff was unable to attach them. I’ve now gone the sequestration route as he still hasn’t paid me, eight years after the court order,” Erasmus said.

Erasmus said Mthimkhulu had seemed like a “very pleasant ­person”.

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