VBS investigators are bullies: ‘Whistleblower’ cries racism, abuse

VBS clients keep vigil at the bank, waiting to withdraw whatever is possible. Picture: Armando Chikhudo
VBS clients keep vigil at the bank, waiting to withdraw whatever is possible. Picture: Armando Chikhudo

The main witness in the ongoing VBS Mutual Bank saga claims his evidence is inadmissible after the investigators allegedly betrayed his trust by exposing him as the primary informant.

Former VBS treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane also claims the investigation into the collapse of VBS, run by Advocate Terry Motau, is a racist farce allowing a bloated “army of forensic investigators” from Werksmans Attorneys to extract millions in fees from the stricken bank.

Motau himself was nothing but a glorified assistant while a nearly all-white team does the actual work, claimed Mukhodobwane. He accused the investigators of being bossy and superior – “the very essence of whitism”.

An affidavit Mukhodobwane provided to investigators formed the basis of all the current court proceedings launched by VBS curator Anoosh Rooplal. These included an application to liquidate VBS’ main shareholder Vele Investments and to sequestrate Vele and VBS bosses, including Mukhodobwane himself. The affidavit detailed the alleged theft of R1.5 billion from VBS by way of fake deposits in favour of Vele and related parties.

By making this affidavit public in court, the curator has endangered his life, claims Mukhodobwane. It had been deposed with the explicit understanding that it would be confidential, he says.

Legally, the affidavit was inadmissible because it was irregularly given to Rooplal by the investigators, he said in a new affidavit this week.

The use of his affidavit was “despicable” and he would never have provided the information if he knew how it would be used, said Mukhodobwane.

However, Mukhodobwane did not retract any of his evidence about the pillaging of VBS and the alleged payment of bribes to, among others, a still unnamed “senior executive” at the Public Investment Corporation.

He claimed that the sequestration application against himself couldn’t proceed on the basis of his own evidence.

Mukhodobwane portrayed the investigators as bullies who are ready to bend rules when it suited them. At least one form he was made to sign was backdated to make it appear legitimate, he claims.

According to Mukhodobwane, the large team of investigators was not properly appointed by the South African Reserve Bank.

“I must point out that the investigations carried out by Werksmans Attorneys are extremely worrying insofar as demographic composition of their teams are concerned. There are only two black persons in the entire team. The rest of the team is entirely lily white,” said Mukhodobwane.

“This is not an irrelevant consideration, considering that the issue herein is a black bank being ripped apart pursuant to the investigations conducted by an almost all-white attorney firm.”

Mukhodobwane also suggested that the curator and investigators were selective about which parts of his evidence to use and his affidavit detailed an ongoing fight with the investigators about access to the transcript of his own interrogation, which he was denied. He suggested these transcripts would prove the investigators lied to him about confidentiality.

The curator’s legal team caused money belonging to Mukhodobwane to be frozen as “proceeds of crime” which he said hampered his ability to pay his own lawyers.

Mukhodobwane said his affidavit was “only deposed to for the purpose of giving the investigation team some leads to speedily unravel the matter”. They had promised to keep his identity secret.

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