Dubious company with VBS links funded Malema's Sandown home - report

EFF leader Julius Malema. (Gallo Images, file)
EFF leader Julius Malema. (Gallo Images, file)

A Sunday Times investigation has further broken down how money from Santaclara Trading, a company registered to EFF leader Julius Malema's cousin, Jimmy Matlebyane, has been channelled into three different accounts. The company received more than R4m in suspicious payments, in just seven months.

According to the publication the money came from companies that looted VBS Mutual Bank, companies that did business with the government of Limpopo and from the EFF's lawyers.

The Sunday Times details that in one instance the money was channelled into an account belonging to an upmarket restaurant in Soweto's Vilakazi Street, which is managed by Malema 's cousin, Tsholo Malema. Money also flowed into the Munzhedzi Family Trust and the Marimba Investment Trust, which are linked to Malema.

While Santaclara is registered to Matlebyane, sources close to Malema told the Sunday Times that SMS bank notifications relating to the account are sent to Malema's phone number.

Sandown home

Funds transferred to the Munzhedzi Family Trust were reportedly used to bankroll a home in Sandown, Johannesburg. A R5.5m bond from Absa was also obtained to help fund the property which was previously owned by the EFF. 

The party had bought the house from Ovadia Eli in 2017 for R5.25m. It is now registered as the business address of Vuur Trading. Matlebyane is a director. EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi did not respond to questions from the publication on why the party sold the property to Malema.

When contacted Malema told the Sunday Times that his family trust has never received money from VBS. He also questioned how the publication had received confidential information. 

Tsholo Malema, who runs the restaurant SUD in Soweto, denied any knowledge that it receives funding from Santaclara. 

Last month, the Sunday Times reported that Santaclara financed a home in Polokwane, Limpopo, for Malema for R3.3m in October 2017. The loan was applied for through VBS bank. 

The EFF leader initially listed his income as R5 000 per month with R2 400 as his monthly expenses, but then later amended the loan application, stating that he had a monthly income of R154 999.

VBS loan

The "fraudalent" application placed Santaclara on the radar because another one of Malema's cousins, Phaleng Matsobane, who is the director of Mahuna Investments, emailed the bond application to a VBS manager.

AmaBhungane previously reported that Mahuna Investments was paid alleged kickbacks by a fleet management company, just before it won a R1.2bn contract from the City of Johannesburg.

The same company also allegedly paid around R150 000 to Santaclara in October 2018, the report stated.

At the time, Ndlozi confirmed to the Sunday Times that the party deposited money into Santaclara's account for services rendered.

"The company is one of our service providers and we use it from time to time for things like posters, sound hire and events management among other things. We once used it as a proxy to register one of our vehicles and car rentals," Ndlozi told the paper.

It is alleged that Malema's attorney Ian Levitt appears to have deposited R300 000 into the account in March 2017 alone. Levitt declined to comment on the payments.

LTE Consulting, the company that received a  R2.2bn tender to supply water to Limpopo, also allegedly deposited R200 000 into the account.

Grand Azania, a company linked to EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, reportedly deposited R500 000 to Santaclara.

Daily Maverick previously reported that Grand Azania received R6.16m from VBS Mutual Bank and R8.74m from other dubious sources.

"However, an analysis of the flow of funds into Grand Azania, shows it paid R500 000 to Santaclara. This would suggest that money from VBS - which folded after being looted out of almost R2bn at the expense of poor account-holders and struggling municipalities - found its way into Malema's or the EFF's hands through Santaclara," the report said.

- Compiled by Vanessa Banton and Riaan Grobler.

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