'I am not scared of jail,' says former Vele CEO

Robert Madzonga,
Robert Madzonga,
Caryn Dolley, News24
  • Former Vele Investments CEO Robert Madzonga says he is not involved in the looting of millions from bankrupted VBS Mutual Bank.
  • Madzonga denies celebrating the fact that he is not part of the group arrested in connection with the looting. 
  • Seven people have already appeared in court. An eighth is under Covid-19 quarantine.

Former Vele Investments CEO Robert Madzonga says there is nothing linking him to the millions of rand looted from the bankrupted VBS Mutual Bank.

Madzonga revealed this during an interview on Power FM with Thabiso Kotane and reporter Ndaedzo Nethonzhe on Monday night.

He said he would not be in this situation had he not "tried to be a Samaritan".

"I have always said, and maintained my innocence - from day one - that I am not any part of this thing. I [pleaded] my innocence from day one and that is why when Sunday Times says I was celebrating prematurely, I was shocked because from day one I have never been panicking," he said.

"I am not even celebrating [that I was not part of the arrested individuals] because there is nothing to celebrate. I want to tell people, even my haters, that I am not scared of jail."

It's alleged, in a report, authored by advocate Terry Motau, that between 2015 and early 2018, when the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) placed VBS under curatorship due to a liquidity crisis, chairperson of the bank, Tshifhiwa Matodzi – together with his co-directors and Madzonga – facilitated the looting of nearly R2 billion.

READ | Explosive report into VBS Mutual Bank reveals large-scale 'looting'

So far, seven people have appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Regional Court, after they were arrested or handed themselves over to the Hawks last week.

Each of the seven were granted bail of R100 000 on Thursday.

Matodzi, who was described as the alleged "kingpin" of the looting scheme, VBS chief executive Andile Ramavhunga, former VBS treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane and former non-executive VBS board members Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, as well as former KPMG engagement partner Sipho Malaba and Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi, the former chief financial officer of the South African Police Service, are facing 47 charges of fraud, theft, money laundering, corruption and racketeering.

Bail application 

An eighth accused, former VBS chief financial officer Philip Truter, did not appear in court because he was in quarantine due to Covid-19. He will need to lodge his own bail application.

During Monday night's interview on Power FM, Madzonga said that when the bank was struggling, he took it upon himself to assist it.

He said the bank wanted people to assist by investing in order to deal with its liquidity issue.

"It is not just a black bank. I think people need to understand this. It was a home-based bank from Venda and I come from Venda, and I have that kind of pride in the bank from Venda," he said.

"I said: 'Ok, let me also assist.' I called a lot of friends and people who are in business. I could not just ask them to put money there to assist the bank without me showing something from my side. I took out my R3 million I put it in … I got a friend to also put in R15 million into the bank," he said.

Madzonga said there was nothing which could link him to the events that occurred at the bank.

"I put in the money because I wanted to make sure that the bank does not fall," he said, adding that his R3 million was also looted. 

"I was trying to be a Samaritan and help the bank." 

Bought 

He also said the reason why he was mentioned as a kingpin, was because his "haters" were intimidated and failed to understand why he was progressing in life.

"What causes the jealousy? People are asking where he gets the money," he said, adding that he started being a businessman since his days at university.

On the issue of his ex-wife claiming that he hid R50 million with one of his colleagues in his lawyer's account, Madzonga said his former spouse was "bought".

"People went to my ex-wife and said: 'We've got something in common here. This guy is going to court next week. We need to nail this guy. We need to create an impression that this guy is a thug,'" he said during the interview.

"The R50 million she alleged, why would she allege that there was R50 million and Terry Motau couldn't find it? She is lying, she was bought. My enemy went to her and bought her."

Madzonga also said he would take on the media for labelling him the kingpin in the VBS saga.

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