Hamilton Ndlovu's house of cards comes crashing down as he's ordered to repay R158m

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Hamilton Ndlovu.
Hamilton Ndlovu.
  • Hamilton Ndlovu's high life has come to an abrupt end with a ruling by the Special Tribunal.
  • The SIU has obtained an order declaring that Ndlovu and his businesses pay back over R158 million to the state.
  • Ndlovu and several front companies secured deals worth a combined R172 million from the National Health Laboratory Services.

High-flying businessman Hamilton Ndlovu was once the envy of many petrolheads as he flaunted his fleet of luxury vehicles on Twitter, inadvertently setting tongues wagging about how a man in his early 30s could afford to spend millions on five cars, including a Porsche and a Lamborghini, in one day.

Soon after posting his high-end cars to social media in May 2020, his big spending started to unravel as the Hawks and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) took aim at multi-million rand personal protection equipment (PPE) contracts he scored earlier in the year.

It soon emerged that Ndlovu and companies he was associated with were awarded PPE deals worth R172 million by the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS).

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The SIU's probe into Ndlovu and related businesses formed part of its investigation into more than 5 400 government Covid-19 procurement contracts, valued at R14.3 billion. The state and its various entities awarded contracts to 3 066 service providers.

On Tuesday, the Special Tribunal declared as unlawful and invalid 19 contracts awarded to Ndlovu and his businesses. The contracts were worth R172 742 175. The tribunal ordered that the respondents, Ndlovu and his businesses, repay R158 850 921.1, including interest "at the prescribed rate calculated from the date the NHLS made payment for the orders".

The tribunal further ordered that all assets owned by the responding parties be auctioned off or sold to recoup the money owed to the NHLS. This included any properties and vehicles Ndlovu still owned.

In December, the Special Tribunal dismissed an application by Ndlovu and the other parties to have the SIU's review process stayed.

In September, City Press reported that Ndlovu's assets worth R42 million had been frozen.

The Tribunal had since ordered that the frozen assets be forfeited to the state.

The judicial body also ordered that Ndlovu and his companies be blacklisted and barred from doing business with the state.

The SIU said Ndlovu was "the controlling mind of all the front companies and the direct and indirect beneficiary of the funds flowing to them from the payments made by the NHLS". 

"The links and interrelationships between the front companies and the fact that they were all controlled by Mr Ndlovu were not disclosed to the NHLS. The companies operated jointly as part of an unlawful scheme directed by Mr Ndlovu and under the pretence that they were independent entities.

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"Instead of operating at arm's length and in competition with each other to supply PPE to the NHLS at the best available prices, the companies were a front whereby Mr Ndlovu could obtain multiple contracts from the NHLS at excessive prices without revealing his involvement in each of them," the SIU said on Tuesday, after the tribunal issued its declaration.

The investigating unit said it found that only R15 million was used to purchase and provide PPE to the NHLS.

"The SIU obtained and analysed the bank statements of the front companies and of Mr Ndlovu and of other companies and individuals linked to him.

"The analysis showed that, with the exception of an amount of about R15 million that appears to have been used for the purchase of PPE, the funds received from the NHLS were not used to obtain supplies of PPE in order to deliver upon the contracts to the NHLS. Instead, the vast majority of the funds (87.87%) flowed to Mr Ndlovu for his own use."

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