First Lady’s house backed by Guptas

Bongi Ngema-Zuma. Picture: Leon Sadiki
Bongi Ngema-Zuma. Picture: Leon Sadiki

Guptas’ own share registers suggest they have lied about Bongi Ngema-Zuma’s home loan

With a price tag of R5.2 million, the sprawling yellow house is right at home in Waterkloof Ridge, one of Pretoria’s most exclusive suburbs.

The sprawling residence, bought in 2010, belongs to the Sinqumo Trust, which is said to have been named after one of President Jacob Zuma’s sons. The only disclosed trustee of the trust is First Lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma.

When questions were raised in 2012 about whether the Guptas had helped Ngema-Zuma secure a R3.84 million home loan from the Bank of Baroda, an Indian state-owned banking and financial services company, their spokesperson emphatically denied this.

But now it appears he may not have been truthful.

Two weeks ago, City Press was granted access to the share registers of various Gupta companies, including Westdawn Investments, which trades as JIC Mining Services.

Westdawn is majority owned by Oakbay Investments, the Gupta family’s private investment vehicle, with smaller stakes being indirectly owned by Atul Gupta and Duduzane Zuma.

Inside the register, City Press found excerpts from minutes of a board meeting held in Midrand on February 10 2010 in which JIC clearly agreed to bankroll the purchase of the Waterkloof house by the First Lady’s trust.

“Bank of Baroda Johannesburg has agreed to sanction certain credit facility to Sinqumo Trust aggregating R3 840 000,” read the minutes pasted into the register.

“The bank has asked for the corporate guarantee of the company to secure the loan.”

The register also indicates that JIC’s board agreed that the company would agree to guarantee “all amounts which may be or become owing by [Sinqumo Trust] to the bank under and by virtue [of] the above credit facility”.

At the time the board resolution was taken, Zuma had just married Tobeka Madiba, but it was widely reported that he and Ngema-Zuma were engaged.

A few months later, Ngema-Zuma landed a job as JIC’s head of communications and marketing. However, her LinkedIn profile indicates that when JIC agreed to guarantee her home loan, she was still employed by computer company IBM.

This appears to contradict claims made by the Guptas’ former spokesperson Gary Naidoo in 2012.

“The Gupta family or its businesses deny any involvement in any employee’s personal dealings with any institution. Therefore, there should be no confusion that we contributed in any way to the raising or paying of the bond for Ms Ngema-Zuma,” Naidoo told the Mail & Guardian.

In addition, publicly available records indicate that JIC agreed to guarantee a very ambitious bond. While most home loans are paid off over 20 years, the R3.84 million loan from Bank of Baroda would be paid off over five years through hefty monthly instalments of R79 715.

First Lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma’s house in the up-market suburb of Waterkloof Ridge in Pretoria

City Press approached both Ngema-Zuma and JIC on Wednesday for comment about whether JIC’s guarantee had resulted in the mining company paying any portion of the bond, or whether Ngema-Zuma or the Sinqumo Trust were required to provide any service to JIC in exchange for the company’s financial backing.

Neither responded to several requests for comment by phone and sent via email. JIC referred all queries to Gupta company Oakbay Investments, which also did not respond.

Very little is known about the Sinqumo Trust, except that it is registered to the address of a small housing complex in Midrand called Sunset Close. The source of its funding, its beneficiaries and its purpose remain mysteries.

The financing of Ngema-Zuma’s house is not the only unwilling disclosure the Gupta family has been forced to make to City Press about their relationship with South Africa’s first family.

Share registers show how Duduzane Zuma was courted with gifts of shares and directorships in several Gupta companies.

Starting in 2008, shortly after Zuma’s victory at the ANC’s elective conference in Polokwane, Duduzane was appointed a director to 12 different companies in the Gupta empire.

Last Friday, Duduzane announced that he would step down from several directorships in these companies in an attempt to “depoliticise” his business dealings.


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