Daily Maverick claims a fabrication - Julius Malema

EFF leader contests report he lived the high life on purloined VBS money

'It is a fabrication, it is unfounded' - Malema denies VBS allegations

10 September 2019

EFF leader Julius Malema has again rubbished claims of his alleged involvement with companies linked to the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank.

Leaving a meeting with the Hawks on Tuesday, where he was scheduled to deliver a warning statement, Malema gave the media a detailed explanation of Mahuna Investments, a company his cousin Matsobane Phaleng owned.

The warning statement relates to charges stemming from allegations that he discharged a firearm at a rally in East London.

His comments in connection with VBS, stem from a Daily Maverick Scorpio team investigation which revealed on Monday that Malema, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, Shivambu's brother Brian, and Malema's cousin were implicated in the illicit flow of funds.

Mapping out the VBS money trail, Scorpio uncovered a R16.1m transfer from VBS to Brian Shivambu's company Sgameka Projects – effectively a shell company. Scorpio found that at least R5.3m of the R16.1m flowed to Mahuna Investments, according to official Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) documents. Scorpio reported that Malema used Mahuna Investments' business account as his "personal slush fund and alter ego".

But, speaking to the media on Tuesday, Malema said he believed the EFF and is leadership had become prime targets of the Daily Maverick investigation unit.

"It's not new. I'm not using Mahuna's money. Mahuna never received money from VBS. She doesn't say that herself. Mahuna received money from Sgameka and Sgameka is not VBS."

The sequence of movements and purchases revealed by the investigation so far, paint a picture of opulence. These include large amounts spent at the Durban July in 2017 and 2018. Money from the account was also spent in East London at the time of the EFF's fifth birthday celebrations at a stadium in Mdantsane, in the Eastern Cape, the report said.

In around July 2017, Scorpio found that several internet payments reflected R354 000 was paid from the account to KZN establishment, Eyadini Lounge. Scorpio also reported that "VBS loot" had also paid for expenses at the Durban July in 2017, with an internet transaction reflecting a payment of R538 410 on June 28, described as "Opulent Marquee".

However, Malema said his brother runs a marque at the horseracing festival which charges corporate clients R70 000 per ticket.

"It's not like someone went to eat R500 000 at Durban July."

Malema explained that all the men in his family owned businesses and with the money, they help the poor and vulnerable in villages at his behest. This, he said, was why his family helped a child pay for fees which the family owed over six months.

He added that the account was paid in his son's name for "easy reference".

Daily Maverick's report indicated that money from the Mahuna Investments account was used to pay Malema's son's school fees, and funds similarly were transferred to the Munzhedzi Family trust, named after Malema's middle son.

"It is a fabrication, it is unfounded. My brother runs an office in Johannesburg. All my brothers are in events that I am at. You will always find them where I am. All my family are in business, they are running businesses. At least my brothers are not in tenders. She (Scorpio journalist Pauli van Wyk) has a problem with that."

Malema referred to Van Wyk as a politician who wanted to see his demise.

He said wearing labels such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton was something he had always been known to do prior to the VBS scandal.

"Louis Vuitton, Gucci, I've worn it before I don't wear it now, I make no apology about that. I don't buy it with VBS money, I bought Louis Vuitton and Gucci before VBS... Anyone who voted for the EFF they knew that I came with Louis Vuitton and Gucci. It doesn't start now [and] it will not be stopped by politician Van Wyk. What I wear will not influence my political consciousness and commitment to the revolution."