Capitec and Absa say 'fake billionaire' lied about partnerships

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Mandla Lamba.
Mandla Lamba.

Capitec and Absa have denied that they are in partnership with "fake billionaire" Mandla Lamba, after he repeatedly used their credentials in a new sales pitch for his company Agilitee.

Lamba previously claimed to be South Africa's youngest billionaire and a mining tycoon, but various reports confirmed he had lied about his business holdings. 

He was arrested a decade ago on counts of fraud and theft, and in 2015, was sentenced to ten years in jail for culpable homicide after he was involved in a car accident that killed a father and his eight-year old son in Roodepoort. 

Last week, TV personality Somizi Mhlongo featured Lamba on an Instagram broadcast, with the latter making an offer to Mhlongo's followers to buy shares in his new company at a "special" price. 

Mhlongo has 4.1 million Instagram followers, and is paid by companies to act as an "influencer".

During the broadcast, Lamba claimed that Agilitee will produce four models of electric bikes, including the "Agilitee Somizi" inspired by Mhlongo, and that Absa and Capitec were "stakeholders" in his new venture.

Lamba said that Agilitee formed a partnership with Capitec, who will provide instalment credit for bike buyers, while Absa will fund franchisees of Agilitee.

But Capitec and Absa told Fin24 that they have no relationship with Agilitee. 

"The use of our brand, in [Agilitee's] marketing material, is without authorisation and subsequent to our communication, they have agreed to stop using it," an Absa spokesperson added.

Following criticism of Lamba's appearance on his Instagram page, Mhlongo told Fin24 that he doesn't do due diligence on the companies that use him as an influencer. He added that while Lamba served jail time, he was rehabilitated and that everyone deserved a second chance.

Agilitee also issued a statement following the criticism, saying it is proud of its founder for "even overcoming prison".

During the Instagram broadcast, Somizi told Lamba that he "spoke like a president", while the latter urged viewers to "stop doubting".

In response to comments that viewers have been struggling to get a response from Agilitee via email or its telephone lines, Lamba said that they must have used the incorrect the email address, and that his company employed 11 call centre agents.

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