I fell for his lies

By admin
12 November 2010

Claudia Pillay of our sister magazine DRUM was unaware of his dodgy dealings when she fell for his lavish promises – and was left out-of-pocket and feeling foolish.

He liked to portray himself as South Africa’s youngest billionaire. A mining tycoon at the age of 25, he had it all: the suits, the cars, the houses, the businesses.

He was also good looking, articulate and charming, with a smile that could win you over in a heartbeat ? and I should know, because I briefly worked for the now busted “billionaire” Mandla Lamba.

The axe has fallen on his supposedly successful life. Sunday newspapers recently unmasked him as a fraud and a liar. His alleged ownership of manganese mines in South Africa, Zambia and the Republic of the Congo is nothing but wishful thinking.

I first came across him in February 2009 when I was researching a story on funeral policies. He was CEO of Godforth Life Assurance, which offered financial services such as debt consolidation, car insurance and funeral policies.

At that stage everything about the company and its CEO seemed legitimate. According to its website Godforth had been around for five years, was listed on the Joburg and New York stock exchanges with branches nationwide, a head office in the UK and more than 1 500 employees.

My story appeared and a few weeks later Mandla asked for a meeting. We became quite friendly. He even offered me some freelance work. It seemed like a good way to pay off my ever-growing credit card bills.

I’d been working for him for about three weeks as a freelancer when he said he wanted to employ me fulltime as Godforth’s marketing and communications manager.

I turned him down initially. But when Mandla finally made me an offer it was too good to pass up.

Soon though small problems became bigger. By the end of May alarm bells were ringing loudly. I’d been working for him for two months and hadn’t been paid a cent. Rumours of police investigations surfaced again.

When I heard other employees at Godforth hadn’t been paid for two months I decided to cut my losses and see if I could get my old job back. Later I learnt Godforth had closed down.

Do I feel like a fool for being taken in by his smooth-talking ways? Yes. But at least at the end of the day all I really lost were my time, my pride ? and a month’s salary.

Read the full story in YOU, 18 November 2010.

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