EXCLUSIVE: Zuma friend's R550m bonanza

Johannesburg - Mystery surrounds payments in excess of R550 million to a known ANC benefactor and friend of President Jacob Zuma by a tender-rich IT security company.

News24 can reveal that Siyangena Technologies, a Pretoria-based company that won disputed contracts from the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) worth R4 billion, paid large sums of money to companies directly linked to Chockalingam (Roy) Moodley.

He is a well-known Durban businessman and public friend of Zuma and the ruling party. Three independent sources have confirmed the payments.

Siyangena is co-owned by soccer boss Mario Ferreira, whose relationship with Moodley seems to involve more than just business; they are co-owners of local race horses One Man's Dream and Hi Societi.

These developments follow a criminal complaint lodged against Siyangena by private forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan in 2015. O'Sullivan says authorities have not informed him of any progress in their investigation.

O'Sullivan says the investigation into Prasa's contractors should determine whether any payments to individuals like Moodley were corrupt.

Moodley did not responded to News24's queries about the payments his companies received.

The security tycoon often appears in public with Zuma. He was previously ward chairperson for the ANC's Umhlanga branch in KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2014, Zuma attended Moodley's birthday party in Durban. He made a speech in which he referred to Moodley's contribution to the ANC's election campaign during that year's national and provincial elections. 

Moodley's millions

In November last year, Prasa, under the leadership of board chairperson Popo Molefe, approached the High Court in Pretoria to have Siyangena's contracts set aside. The company clinched tenders in 2011 and 2014 to install security cameras, access gates and other security equipment at Prasa’s train stations across the country.

In her report on Prasa's financial management under former CEO Lucky Montana, which was released last year, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that the first contract awarded to Siyangena was improperly extended beyond the original scope of the tender. 

The payments from Siyangena to Moodley are the third example of large, unexplained payments Prasa contractors made to individuals closely linked to Zuma and his family.

Rapport newspaper revealed in January that Angolan businesswoman Maria da Cruz Gomes received payments totaling about R40 million from Swifambo Rail Leasing, the company that supplied Prasa with the controversial Afro4000 locomotives.

Da Cruz Gomes has described Zuma as her friend and he has visited her at her Johannesburg home on several occasions in recent years.

Swifambo paid another R40 million to George Sabelo, a lawyer and business partner of Zuma's eldest son, Edward.

But the latest payments to Moodley's companies eclipse the above-mentioned payments and include:

  • More than R500 million paid by Siyangena to a company called Hail Way Trading, of which Moodley is the only listed director. The company was registered in August 2011, six months after Siyangena bagged its first Prasa tender. Hail Way Trading has no website or publicly available contact detail. Its registered address at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) is the same address registered for Royal Securities, Moodley's security firm;
  • About R50 million paid to Royal Security. This company has provided security services to Prasa in the past. Though CIPC records show Moodley ceased being a director of Royal Security in 2015, the company's website states: "Royal Security cc was officially established... under the dynamic leadership of Mr Roy Moodley." Several weeks ago an employee at Royal Security told News24 that Moodley still owned the company.

Moodley and Zuma

Moodley's ties to the Zuma family have made headlines over the years. In 2010, Zuma famously won R15 000 at the Durban July horse race and was pictured flaunting the cash alongside Moodley. The two were again pictured together at this year's Durban July (see picture).

In Zuma's speech at Moodley's birthday party in 2014, the president praised Moodley's support of the ANC.

"There is a particular organisation that Moodley votes for to keep the country fixed," Zuma was quoted as saying. "You're a friend, comrade. We have something to do with you during elections which we have discussed with you," Zuma added.

Shortly after Moodley's birthday party, EFF leader Julius Malema told his supporters at a manifesto launch in Limpopo, that one of Moodley’s companies bankrolled Zuma after he was fired as South Africa's deputy president in 2005.

Malema maintained Zuma remained on Moodley's payroll for four months into his presidency in 2009.

"Zuma didn't declare that salary when he became state president," The Star newspaper quoted Malema as saying.

In 2012, the Sunday Times reported that the High Court in Durban had granted a local wedding planner permission to attach Edward Zuma’s assets after he failed to settle his wedding bill. It then turned out that a luxury vehicle found at Zuma's house in Durban was Moodley’s.

Siyangena responds

Gert van der Merwe, Siyangena's lawyer, who also represents the Gupta family, neither confirmed nor denied that his client had made the payments to Hail Way Trading and Royal Security. He questioned how News24 had obtained the information. He demanded to be told who News24's sources were before responding to each query, including whether Siyangena's payments to Hail Way Trading and Royal Security related to the Prasa security contracts.

"What was of grave concern when I read your queries was the fact that it seems as if reference is made to information obtained from bank statements belonging to my client. You refer to payments and even the fact that these payments allegedly followed payments received from Prasa," Van Der Merwe stated in an email.

"Whilst I therefore invite you to disclose the nature and extent of the source of information (in order to ensure that it was not obtained illegally) I record that my firm instruction is that your adverse assumptions are incorrect and when afforded the appropriate opportunity, I will address you on each and every query. My client’s business (and its relationship with its strategic partners) is sound and this can be confirmed if duly investigated," he wrote.

In a second e-mail, Van Der Merwe again failed to confirm or deny whether Siyangena had paid Moodley's companies, and if it had, why.

"Despite my client’s legitimate concerns regarding unauthorized access to its bank account and a reasonable request to be advised on the circumstances surrounding your enquiry, you replied that you found 'beyond reasonable doubt' that certain payments were made and that 'it is up to my client to respond'.

"My client will not be held hostage pursuant to your bullying tactics and I will advise them on the appropriate steps to be taken in order to ensure that their rights are protected, the detail you will be advised of by the relevant authority.

"Your efforts to force a blindfolded response are unfortunate. The general public should be made aware of the true and relevant facts, not only those you hope would support your predetermined views. All my client’s rights remain reserved," he concluded.

News24 made several attempts to obtain Moodley's comment. He did not respond to calls to his cellphone or to text messages.

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