In the eye of Tornado Tony

David Bullard on crossing swords with the former ANC MP and jail bird, and now Venezuelan junketeer



I first mentioned Tony Yengeni in print on 22 July 2001 in my Out to Lunch column titled “What ‘Special Price’ Yengeni had to say about his Mercedes”. At the time Mr Yengeni was the chief whip of the ANC and, as such, might have been expected to uphold the party’s espoused high standards of integrity. But a story leaked out that he had received a substantial discount on a luxury Mercedes 4x4 from an arms bidder back in the late 1990’s.

In July 2001, after four months of hoping it would all blow over, he took out an entire page of a newspaper at an estimated cost of R250000 to protest his innocence complaining of an “unprecedented concoction of distortion, rumour and gossip mongering, outright lies and half truths” and went on to add that the biggest casualty in all this was not Yengeni or the ANC but South Africa and its people. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel as Samuel Johnson famously observed.

Old habits die hard and in June of 2013 it was reported by investigative journalist Stefaans Brummer that German detectives investigating engineering conglomerate ThyssenKrupp for dodgy arms deal behaviour found a R6mln bribe agreement with Mr Yengeni making him one of the more significant players in the tainted arms deal. Predictably, Mr Yengeni had nothing to say when confronted with this evidence.

Yengeni was convicted of fraud in 2003 for the first mentioned offence and sentenced to four years in prison. After a series of unsuccessful appeals he began his sentence at Pollsmoor in August 2006 but transferred to the considerably less austere Malmesbury prison where he managed to stick it out for a full four months until he was released on parole and carried out shoulder high by his ANC comrades in an obvious attempt to discredit the judicial system.

In 2007 he was arrested in Goodwood for drunken driving just after midnight. Since being out after 10pm and consuming alcohol was in contravention of Yengeni’s parole conditions something needed to be done. So Goodwood station commander Siphiwo Hewana was “persuaded” to give Yengeni’s blood sample to a complete stranger and to falsify the time of arrest. Hewana was later found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice but Teflon Tony walked away laughing.

In 2013 Yengeni was again arrested for driving his white “struggle” Maserati while drunk at three times over the legal limit. Four years later a very benevolent magistrate called Grant Engel found him guilty of drunken driving but not of the charge of reckless driving. It’s always comforting to know that the law doesn’t regard getting behind the wheel when you happen to be pissed as a newt as a reckless action. Mr Engel also didn’t suspend Teflon Tony’s driving license because he needed it for work. We should all be so lucky.

Last week a picture appeared on Teflon Tony’s Twitter page showing him and two chubby fellow travellers with Mr Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan despot currently nominally in charge of that troubled country. Yengeni was full of praise for the Venezuelan president and dismissed all the bad press the country is getting as part of an Imperialist plot to discredit the great socialist miracle that is modern Venezuela. A little later another pic appeared on his Twitter page of the same chubby Africans with some old codger who they claimed was the father of the late Commandant Chavez, “the founding father of the Bolivarian Revolution”.

So I decided to fire off a Tweet to Teflon Tony which read

“So who authorized this tax payer sponsored junket for fat people I wonder”.

Yengeni’s Twitter handle is “Tony tornado Yengeni”, presumably as a reference to all the turbulent air and debris that he trails in his wake. His measured response was:

“Tax payer sponsored junket is a manufactured racist white lie… but I’m not surprised that an old white propagandist spews rubbish and lies to support American imperialist regime change in Venezuela by starving millions of innocent people. A crime against humanity”

I couldn’t let this go unchallenged so I tweeted:

A jailbird responds. Tony, we know you are a shit driver and a bit of a fibber so no surprise at this pig ignorant response”

This exchange continued with Yengeni wittily responding that my mother was a jail bird adding “you are a piece of racist shit” and shortly after “who paid is none of your f…kn business. Go jump.”

The scatological leitmotif continued after I’d sweetly offered to correct Cde Tony’s English with:

I don’t need an english lesson from you Proffesor…You little piece of ignorant and stinking racist shit…!

And this genial banter continued in much the same vein until Tony tornado decided to block me from reading his tweets. As I’ve explained in a previous column this is an exercise in futility because there is always a way to read someone’s tweets.

Three matters of concern arise from this. Since Yengeni is, as far as I know, head of the ANC’s “Crime and Corruption committee”, (a position he was given as recently as June 2018) and bearing in mind his dodgy past and his foul mouth are the ANC really expecting to be taken seriously by anyone with a pulse ahead of May 8th?

Concerning the trip to Venezuela; it would be fascinating to learn who paid for it and why was it necessary to go? But much more importantly, are the ANC really so in awe of the great Bolivarian BallsUp that they want to try it here? Are they weaning us onto the idea gently with stage 4 loadshedding and will empty supermarket shelves and malfunctioning public hospitals be the next giant leap backward?

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