Malema’s sugar daddy

Johannesburg - The tycoon who took ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema along on his wedding junket to Mauritius also deposited piles of cash into Malema’s trust fund.

City Press can reveal that property mogul David Mabilu’s Vharanani Properties has on more than one occasion paid amounts exceeding R100 000 into the account of the Ratanang Family Trust, named after Malema’s son.

In July City Press revealed the existence of the trust and quoted a Limpopo businessman who claimed to have paid money into the trust as a reward for Malema assisting him in winning a government tender.

Malema has since claimed the trust only receives donations from business people to assist him with welfare projects.

The trust and other accounts linked to Malema are now under intense scrutiny by the Hawks.

Two independent, well-placed sources with knowledge of Malema’s financial dealings confirmed to City Press that Mabilu was one of the trust’s benefactors.

Mabilu is the second businessman to be identified as a Malema “sugar daddy” after Polokwane-based contractor Steve Bosch admitted earlier this year to depositing money into the trust’s account.

Malema has consistently claimed he is not a millionaire despite his royal lifestyle.

Apart from his ANC salary, he has confirmed receiving dividends from On-Point Engineering, a tender-rich company partly owned by his family trust.

Mabilu failed to respond to questions this week about the nature and reason for the payments to Malema’s trust.

Malema’s spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, responded: “I thought we had an agreement that we do notrespond to futile fishing expeditions. Also it looks like you’re hellbent on criminalising black, particularly Africans, progress.”

The Sunday Times reported that two hours after Malema led an economic freedom march to Pretoria, a blue-light convoy accompanied him to OR Tambo airport, where he boarded a business class flight to Mauritius.

The all-expenses-paid island wedding with 300 guests – including Malema’s business associate, Lesiba Gwangwa; businessman Ali Boshielo; soccer supremo Bobby Motaung; and singer Judith Sephuma – reportedly cost Mabilu between R10m and R15m.

A number of Limpopo municipal mayors attended the event and Mabilu chartered a flight for his guests, booking an entire beach resort for the function.

Mabilu has scored big in government tenders. Since last year, Vharanani was awarded contracts by the Limpopo and Gauteng provincial governments worth more than R200m.

Born in Soweto, Mabilu’s roots are in Limpopo’s Venda area, where he made most of his fortune from government contracts for water reticulation, construction and bulk water supply in the past decade.

He is known for providing quality services, but is often accused of using his political connections to score lucrative tenders, especially in Limpopo.

A shrewd and smart operator, Mabilu has been close to successive ruling elites in Limpopo over the past decade.

Malema was a guest speaker at Mabilu’s birthday party last year.

Mabilu owns a complex in the Polokwane suburb of Bendor, next to the Faranani Estate, which he developed. He also owns a string of luxury cars and a multimillion rand mansion in Sandton.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Vharanani bought two portions of a farm near Polokwane from two liquidated companies in 2007.

He later swopped these pieces of land for prime land owned by the City of Polokwane, paying in an extra R5.9m.

Shortly afterwards, Mabilu sold the land previously owned by the municipality to the Limpopo local government and housing department for R51m, making a profit of R40m.

Malema this week threatened the Hawks to “bring it on” after reports that his arrest was imminent.

Two senior law enforcement agents who spoke to City Press said they were perplexed by these newspaper reports.

One senior officer said: “This is nonsense. The case is far from being completed. Why would people tell such things to the press? To create some hype?”
- City Press
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