'I have been caught in the crossfire' - Adapt IT's Sbu Shabalala speaks out on violent attack

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Adapt IT CEO Sbu Shabalala
Adapt IT CEO Sbu Shabalala
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  • The JSE-listed Adapt IT's founder Sbu Shabalala is fighting back against accusations that he orchestrated a violent attack on his estranged wife's partner.
  • He says that that the attack was unrelated to him, and the allegations are "without merit".
  • The reported victim of the attack is suspended eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza, who is out on bail in a R430m tender fraud case. 

Adapt IT founder and CEO Sbu Shabalala has broken his silence following allegations that he orchestrated a violent attack on his estranged wife Neo's new partner, suspended eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza.

The Sunday Times reported that Neo Shabalala filed for an urgent interdict against her husband. She accused him in an affidavit of ordering an attack on Nzuza, who reportedly ended up in hospital after intruders entered their home, according to the newspaper.

Software company Adapt IT's share price slumped on Monday following the report, and by the end of the day, the company announced that its CEO has been granted a leave of absence for three months "to attend to personal matters".

Shabalala at first did not respond to reports, but on Tuesday said in a statement that the allegations against him are "without merit".

"[I] am now being accused of violent and uncharacteristic behaviour, in what is clearly an unrelated attack. I have been caught in the crossfire."

He added that the best way of dealing with the allegations was through the judicial system.

"This is not only to clear my name of wrongdoing but to also bring those who are using my proximity to the situation to serve their own ends. This campaign is cold-hearted and must be condemned," he said.

According to the Sunday Times, Nzuza ended up in a critical condition in a Durban hospital following a home invasion by a group of men. 

Last year, Nzuza was suspended as eThekwini city manager following his arrest related to a R430 million tender fraud case in the Durban Solid Waste unit. He recently lost a court bid to get his bail conditions relaxed so he could return to his job.

'Self and family care'

Reports of the attack come at a crucial time for Adapt IT, which has received two acquisition offers from local telecoms company Huge Group and Canada based software firm Volaris Group.

The takeover by the Canadian company has been supported by shareholders with 44% of Adapt IT shares, but on Monday the companies said that the deadline for the fulfilment of the deal has been extended by another week.

Shabalala who has been at the helm of Adapt IT since he founded it 15 years ago, says that the past five months have been among the most difficult periods of his life.

He said in a statement that although his instinct was to continue working, people close to him had advised him to take time off for "self and family care". 

"I listened. Hence my decision to take leave. My trust in the competence and excellence of our management team made the decision somewhat easier," he said.

He asked for privacy and said that he will not continue engaging on the allegations until they have been resolved.

On Monday, Huge's CEO James Herbst told Fin24 that his company's bid remained in place despite the allegations.

"We are committed to a process, our bid is substantively unconditional so … we are not in a position to extricate ourselves from our offer, we can’t walk away, we have no choice and so our offer will proceed," said Herbst.

Volaris has not yet responded to Fin24's request for comment.

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