Suspended Dube TradePort CEO in identity scandal

2015-03-06 00:00

SAXEN van Coller, the suspended CEO of the Dube TradePort, was once a power-lifter known as Yvette Coetzee.

City Press reported Van Coller’s suspension followed an investigation by the board because she allegedly faked her educational qualifications to land her R2,5 million-a-year job in 2013.

The paper reported that the board had found anomalies in her claims that she held a BA, an MBA and a doctorate.

Coller/Coetzee (51), who in 2009 at the Gauteng Powerlifting competition could dead-lift 152 kg and squat 140 kg and even travelled to Orlando Florida, to compete in a bench press competition, used to change the use of her names on a regular basis.

For instance, according to a consumer trace report on Van Coller, she listed Special Olympics South Africa as a previous employer. The trace report reflected both names belonged to the same identity number.

Further records reveal that she was heavily involved in the Gauteng-based Phoenix Masters Swimming Club, an affiliate of the South African Masters Swimming Association, for which she was president in 2007. She was also part of the South African Masters Sasolburg Nationals Organising Committee in 2007, presumably to take an event to the region.

But despite her alter-ego Van Coller was also a high-flying executive.

She had held directorships at wineries such as Alto Wynlandgoed and Le Bonheur in the Western Cape as well as Sonke Pharmaceuticals and Indian-owned Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals.

A former swimming colleague of Van Coller/Coetzee, Peter Ponsonby, who was the treasurer of the Phoenix swimming club at the time she was president, said he “understood” why she had two names.

“Her professional name was Van Coller and her family name Coetzee. I believe she did it to break the glass ceiling in the business world in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Ponsonby.

He said while they had lost contact, Van Coller was her “legal name”.

When The Witness contacted Van Coller/Coetzee to ask about her qualifications she said she is “not in a position to comment on any speculation”.

The Witness was unable to obtain any comment from Coller/Coetzee on why she had two names.

“I was one of the few [in swimming circles] that knew she had two names,” said Ponsonby.

Democratic Alliance MPL Ann McDonnell said Van Coller held two passports with different names.

“This may amount to criminal impersonation and identity fraud,” said McDonnell.

McDonnell has also alleged “according to good sources” that Van Coller’s tertiary investigations may be fraudulent but would not provide more details.

“While she is currently suspended and expected to appear before … a disciplinary hearing, the DA implores Economic Development MEC Mabuyakhulu to request TradePort to recover Van Coller’s annual salary of R2,5 million, which is funded by the taxpayer,” said McDonnell.

Dube TradePort Corporation is a business entity of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and has been declared an Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).

National Parliament announced on Wednesday there would be a clampdown on officials with dodgy qualifications.

“Her professional name was Van Coller and her family name Coetzee. I believe she did it to break the glass ceiling in the business world in the 1980s and 1990s.”

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