VBS scandal: EFF's Ndlozi says report implicating Brian Shivambu has 'too much fiction'
8 November 2018
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has rubbished the forensic report into large-scale looting at VBS Mutual Bank, in which the brother of the party's chief whip, Floyd Shivambu, was allegedly implicated.
But, while Ndlozi implied that the bank was singled out because it was black-owned, South African Reserve Bank (SARB) deputy governor Kuben Naidoo warned that "if you loot a bank, we are going to come for you", whether you're black or white.
Naidoo and advocate Terry Motau, who compiled the report along with Werksmans Attorneys, briefed Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance (SCOF) on Wednesday.
The SARB-commissioned report, titled "The Great Bank Heist", contained allegations that Shivambu's younger brother Brian Shivambu was one of 27 alleged to have received money from the bank in a "looting scheme" involving R1.8bn.
Brian Shivambu is said to have received R16m. Days later, Daily Maverick reported that of that R16m, about R10m found its way to Floyd Shivambu and R1.33m to the EFF.
Shivambu earlier described the allegations as "insanity" and "madness".
However, the EFF revealed that there were payments between the Shivambu brothers.
Parliament's ethics committee is investigating the party's chief whip. He is the EFF's regular member of SCOF, but did not attend Wednesday's meeting. Ndlozi was there in his place.
At the start of the meeting, committee chairperson Yunus Carrim said he received a letter from Shivambu in his "typically rude style".
"As a central committee member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), would you agree that you are conflicted given that you have benefited from a three million rand (R3m) donation from VBS Mutual Bank and Vele Investments?" Shivambu wrote.
"We ask the chairperson to answer honourably and honestly. We also request the chairperson to expeditiously attend to the matter, given its urgency and sensitivity."
It was the last paragraph that apparently infuriated Carrim.
"So here you go again! You ask me to 'answer honourably and honestly.' As if I won't – and YOU (of all people!) have to remind me of my duty! Well, let me tell you this: the next time you write a letter including such injunction, I will NOT respond to you. Unless I'm instructed to do so by the Speaker," Carrim responded.
"My precise answer to your question: no, most certainly, no, I know nothing about such a donation, and no, most certainly, no, I am not conflicted!"
Carrim said he checked with the SACP's general secretary, Blade Nzimande, and its treasurer, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, and both said the SACP did not receive money from VBS or Vele Investments, as SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila stated publicly.
Carrim told the committee that he tabled Shivambu's letter and his own, and also informed speaker Baleka Mbete and his chief whip Jackson Mthembu.
He suggested that the committee moves on.
Ndlozi said he was "critical of the dismissiveness" of holding Carrim accountable.
"I don’t think it is wise to trivialise it," Ndlozi said.
DA MP David Maynier said it seemed Ndlozi's tactic was that the best defence was attack.
Carrim smiled and Ndlozi said: "So the DA is defending the SACP?"
"No," said Maynier. "The DA is attacking the EFF."
The committee moved on and listened to a presentation on the report by Naidoo and Motau.
When committee members had an opportunity to remark on the presentation or pose questions, Ndlozi said: "I am not persuaded by Motau's report."
"I think it makes a very difficult read for a legal document. At times there is too much fiction."
Maynier complimented Motau on the "compelling writing" in the report, leading Carrim to jokingly ask the committee's communications officer to release a statement saying that Maynier for once complimented someone.
ANC MPs also welcomed the report.
Ndlozi also questioned why some people were named in the report, such as Brian Shivambu.
Motau said he understood why Ndlozi raised the matter of Shivambu being named. He said if Shivambu took the matter to court, the question will be raised.
"The issue will be dealt with in the court," Motau said.
On his writing, Motau said what happened at the bank affected the poorest of the poor and he wrote the report so that it "could be understood by the people on the street".
"If that constitutes fiction and is a ground for review, again, let the courts decide."
"I think you're dishonest," Ndlozi said. "It is a provocation. The poor know how to read!"
"On what legal basis would you put a person's name in a report implicating that he is a looter?"
At a press briefing after the release of the report, the EFF suggested that they were the target of a conspiracy driven by Minister of State Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and Treasury officials.
Ndlozi then wanted to know if Motau met with Gordhan while working on the report, or with Treasury officials, such as deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat.
"I did not meet Pravin Gordhan to discuss the report," Motau responded, adding that he hadn't seen Gordhan for quite some time. He said he had to report back during the investigation, and Treasury officials would be present at the meetings.
Carrim said: "So you're saying neither Pravin Gordhan or Ismail Momoniat influenced the report?"
Motau answered in the affirmative.
Momoniat was present at the meeting. Earlier this year he was on the receiving end of a racist rant by Floyd Shivambu.
"Lifestyle audits, we all talk about it. It needs to be done," Momoniat said.
Later Ndlozi played the race card. After the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed they were investigating the matter but could not say when arrests would be made, Ndlozi said: "I have no doubt that there will be swift criminal prosecution."
He said the matter was being publicised by the "predominantly white-owned media".
"Law enforcement is very swift on blacks," Ndlozi said.
"Everyone else is allowed to fail."
"[If] black people have been found to fail, you bury them."
"This is the first time VBS has any problems and our first reaction is: kill them."
He said it kept the finance industry "lily-white".
Naidoo said the last time fraud was found at a bank was at Regal Bank.
"We doggedly pursued Jeff Levenstein," Naidoo said. Levenstein, founder and CEO, is serving a sentence of eight years for fraud. The bank collapsed in 2001 and was liquidated in 2004.
"We don't care whether you are black or white, if you loot a bank we're going to come for you," Naidoo said.