With the clock ticking until the deadline for ANC members who have been criminally charged to step aside, civic organisation, the SA Unemployed Workers Union (Sauwu) has thrown a spanner in the works as they announced on Monday that they would be opening a case of corruption against President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Given the ANC national executive committee resolutions announced last month, all members charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside, notwithstanding the validity of the charges.
Speaking to City Press on Monday, Sauwu president Jabu Ntusi said the union would be “laying corruption charges against the president” on Thursday, following damning revelations made by businessperson and anti-apartheid activist Tokyo Sexwale during an interview on eNCA’s Truth to Power talk show on Sunday.
The ANC veteran ruffled feathers as he alleged that some of the billions of rands he had raised to fight Covid-19 and assist poor students had been stolen, and police were on a mission to recover the funds.
He went on to detail how he and a member of a prominent South African family – whose name was not provided – raised billions from a single donor who is now asking questions about the whereabouts of the funds.
Without substantiating his allegations, Sexwale said he made the discovery of the missing funds when he wanted to access the money and utilise it for its initial targets.
“The process was aimed at bringing the funds into our hands. In fact, we wanted to bring it to the economy of the country. We found some resistance. When we checked the resistance, we realised that part of the money had been stolen,” said Sexwale.
He said he had informed the police and they were in the process of investigating.
“It is a police matter. Something has happened over there. A case was opened two weeks ago ... The donor asked about the money, and he said it was supposed to be used for Covid-19 and the students,” Sexwale said.
He added that Ramaphosa and his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, as well as Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, were well aware of the billions in the Heritage Fund and the fact that some of the monies had since gone missing.
Ntusi said Sauwu was “very concerned by what was revealed during this interview, where serious allegations were made regarding the embezzlement of Covid-19 relief funds”.
“These funds were supposed to benefit the poorest of the poor – the unemployed and the destitute. It is now concerning that those in power would see an opportunity to misappropriate these funds.”
He said he would be opening the corruption case based on Sexwale’s revelations that money from the Heritage Fund – meant for the poor – had been stolen.
He said they would be opening the case against Ramaphosa based on the fact that he was the president and ought to have kept a close eye on the funds.
Ntusi told City Press that, besides Sexwale’s allegations, Sauwu had no other proof of the existence of such funds or the subsequent disappearance of some of the money.
However, he said that Sauwu was not part of any ANC factional battles and the laying of such charges against Ramaphosa so close to the April 30 deadline for members who had been criminally charged to step aside was coincidental.
“The charges we are going to lay are based on the fact that we are a union representing unemployed South Africans who will continue to suffer if such allegations are not investigated. We just want the police to look into the matter and make a determination and that’s as far as our interest goes.”
“We have had similar allegations emerging before the state capture commission and would not be surprised if there were truth to the claims being made by Sexwale,” said Ntusi.
In a joint statement, National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said the allegations made by “Mr Tokyo Sexwale on alleged billions deposited at SARB that have been deposited points to a common scam”.
“Over the years, National Treasury and the SARB have received many such requests for, or promises, of billions (and now trillions) of rands or dollars, and from experience regard these as simply scams.
“Any claim that such funds are meant for deserving causes such as Covid-19 relief, social grants or grants for free education are simply empty promises, to secure the interest of the potential victim,” read the joint statement.
National Treasury and the SARB confirmed that they have “previously received correspondence from Mr Sexwale and many others that alleges that billions of rands have been stolen from a fund that has been referred to as the ‘White Spiritual Boy Trust’ and which was set up by a foreign donor”.
“It is further alleged that there are trillions of dollars in the said fund and that, inter alia, a certain Mr Goodwin Erin Webb was its mandated representative in South Africa.
“On investigation, the SARB can confirm that it had no record of the existence of the said fund and it had advised Mr Sexwale in writing that, given the SARB’s experience and knowledge of this and other similar matters, it could only conclude that the alleged fund was a scam,” read the joint statement.
The statement also added that “Sexwale is not the first prominent person acting on behalf of a Mr Webb or an unknown donor, for such funds, and such requests can be traced to many years before 2016”.
The two organizations concluded that the onus was on Sexwale “and his unknown sponsor to provide independent written proof of the existence and/or transfer of such funds, as well as certified copies of actual identification and citizenship of such ‘donors’, in line with the normal FICA- type anti-money laundering requirements”.
Attempts to get comment from the presidency were unsuccessful.