SCORPIO

The Chronicles of Grand Azania, Part Two: Floyd Shivambu’s time of spending dangerously

By Pauli Van Wyk 13 October 2019
Caption
epa06603473 Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (R) and Floyd Shivambu member of parliament for the Economic Freedom Fighters (L) react as South African president Cyril Ramaphosa (not pictured) speaks during a question and answer session in parliament, Cape Town, South Africa, 14 March 2018. President Cyril Ramaphosa was in Parliament to attend his first question and answer session since he was elected into office. The issue of land expropriation was one of the main issues brought into question. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA

Scorpio’s latest investigation shows how a bank card linked to one of Shivambu’s slush funds followed him around southern Africa, paying for his birthday trip to Zambia, groceries at Spar and clothing from Gucci. It further paid for his Range Rover, his lifestyle and his political aspirations.

In the first article in this series, Scorpio showed how Floyd Shivambu was the directing hand and main beneficiary of two companies turned slush funds, which received R15.1-million in stolen money from VBS Mutual Bank. Shivambu can no longer hide behind his brother Brian, the legal owner of these companies.

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Floyd Shivambu is a keen Instagrammer. A big theme in his photographic diary is how he, as EFF deputy president, “uplifts” the poor and needy. The pictures are almost always accompanied by captions suggesting the donations are funded by Shivambu and the EFF.

12 January and 9 July 2017 were such Instagrammable days.

In January 2017, Shivambu gifted wheelchairs to an old age home in Heidelberg, Gauteng. He posted: “Today we handed over 15 wheelchairs to Ratanda Old Age home. It’s an important mission because we can’t postpone the suffering and deprivation of our people.”

Similarly, in July that year, Shivambu posts a picture of himself handing over football kit – in red – to a local team from his home-town village of Mahonisi in Malamulele, Limpopo. The caption says:

Real Fighters FC (Mahonisi Village) defeated Jimmy Jones FS 4-1 today and official Number 2 in Malamulele SAFA League. Few games and we will gain promotion. Worthy investment!”

Scorpio’s investigation shows Shivambu’s philanthropy quest was a farce. Bank statements for his slush funds show that a total of R43,100 in stolen money from VBS Mutual Bank was used to fund the kit gifted to Real Fighters FC. The lion’s share of the VBS loot was stolen from people and municipalities in the greater Limpopo area where Shivambu was born.

It was a matter of stealing from his poorest neighbour to give to another in need – with the added bonus of culturing goodwill from the voting public. The wheelchairs were funded by an as yet anonymous, but highly questionable, beneficiary and set Shivamu’s slush fund back by R54,000. The payment’s description reads “Nyiko Shivambu”.

A R54,000 payment towards the wheelchairs Shivambu gifted a few days later to the elderly in an old age home in Heidelberg, Gauteng, Grand Azania’s bank statements show.

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It is pure insanity”, Shivambu said on 16 October 2018 at a special press briefing convened at the EFF’s headquarters in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

It is madness of people who want to say that we received R10-million [in VBS money]. We never took money from VBS. Anyone who thinks that is mad,” Shivambu told journalists.

He reacted vehemently, backed by party chief Julius Malema, against Scorpio’s findings that he had benefited handsomely from the orchestrated looting of VBS Mutual Bank.

Shivambu’s denial was a charade and a lie, Scorpio’s 11-month investigation confirms.

While challenging Scorpio to “bring the proof” of his wrongdoing, Shivambu knew he was the directing hand and main beneficiary of two companies managed by his brother Brian, namely Sgameka Projects Pty Ltd and Grand Azania Pty Ltd.

Shivambu knew these companies received a total of R16.1-million in VBS loot which he operated like slush funds.

  • This allowed him to pay R1.8-million in stolen VBS money for his white Range Rover.

  • He knew about the R180,000 in VBS cash paid directly into his personal bank account.

  • He knew that the names of his wife, daughter and family appeared as beneficiaries in his slush fund’s bank statements.

  • And Shivambu knew VBS money made payments (R2.38-million) towards three properties he and his parents lived in.

Shivambu repeated his lies days later, on 23 October 2018, in Parliament when he said:

We are going to state here, categorically clear, without any fear of contradiction that the EFF and ourselves as members of Parliament never benefited anything from the VBS Mutual Bank looting and the so-called heist that happened there.”

Why are the slush funds named Grand Azania Pty Ltd and Sgameka Projects Pty Ltd actually Floyd Shivambu’s front companies?

Scorpio analysed more than 1,000 transactions in the accounts of Grand Azania and another 200 transactions in Sgameka Projects effected between 2016 and 2018. Scorpio’s analysis of Grand Azania and Sgameka Projects shows Shivambu utilised more than R12.26-million in stolen VBS money to fund his lifestyle. He further received an additional R8.74-million paid to Grand Azania by 15 highly questionable sources.

Diagram 1: Of the R18.76-million in stolen VBS funds that flowed to Sgameka Projects, about R1.3-million was paid directly into two EFF accounts and about R5.2-million was funnelled through to Julius Malema’s slush fund Mahuna Investments Pty Ltd. Floyd Shivambu retained R12.26-million for the benefit of his own pocket. Also, refer to Diagram 2.

Highly questionable transactions worth about R28-million washed through Shivambu’s slush funds between 2016 and 2018.

We know Floyd Shivambu is the directing hand behind the companies-turned-slush-funds, and not Brian, because:

  • The bank card linked to Grand Azania’s account followed Shivambu around southern Africa while paying for his lifestyle;

  • He used his influence with VBS management to gain at least two loans gifted under suspicious and probably fraudulent circumstances to Sgameka Projects. Read our investigation into the business loan and the home loan;

  • Money washing through the companies funded the Range Rover he drove, his wedding in Malamulele and cash to his wife, daughter, family and friends;

  • The companies’ legal owner, Brian Shivambu, used very little of the millions washing through the accounts – about R600,000 Scorpio could isolate; and

  • Shivambu’s ID number and variations of his name, Nyiko Floyd Shivambu, appear about 80 times in the Grand Azania account. Variations of Brian Shivambu’s name appear 13 times.

How Grand Azania’s bank card followed Floyd Shivambu around southern Africa

In order to prove who the real beneficiary of Grand Azania is, Scorpio analysed about 260 point-of-sale (POS) payments captured in the company’s bank statements. POS payments record a location and the store name, which is reflected on the bank statements.

Brian Shivambu is the legal owner of the bank account, but his public social media profiles suggest he was not at the locations where Grand Azania’s funds were spent.

This suggests he did not carry the Grand Azania bank card with him.

The Grand Azania bank card did, however, follow his brother Floyd Shivambu around southern Africa. We can trace his movements all the way back to December 2016, when Shivambu spent Christmas in his home-town, Malamulele, Limpopo. He drove back to Johannesburg on 26 December. The Grand Azania bank card travelled with him, and registered two payments on his way back at the Kranskop and Nyl Plaza toll gates.

Between November and December 2016, Grand Azania received R800,000 in 17 transactions. One of these transactions is a R100,000 deposit from questionable businessman Lawrence Mulaudzi, who partially funded Shivambu’s wedding in April 2017. Scorpio wrote about that wedding here. The additional transactions reflect the amounts of R100,000 or R25,000 – all rounded numbers with no rand and cent values akin to traditional invoiced and legitimate payments. The source of this income is still under investigation. The character of them, however, seems highly questionable.

Shivambu took the bank card on a Sandton City shopping spree two days after returning from Christmas with his family. On 28 December 2016, it paid for new clothes at Gucci (R20,300), Nike (R3,579.96) and Louis Vuitton (R7,600) – just in time for Shivambu’s birthday trip to Zambia. The next day, the card paid for an item worth R3,495 at Moda Luggage & Leather.

On 30 December 2016, Shivambu publishes his crossing of the Kazungula Border Post between Zambia and Botswana on Instagram.

 

Shivambu spent his birthday on New Year’s Day 2017 next to the Victoria Falls. The Grand Azania bank card celebrated the birthday with Shivambu in Zambia. It paid R8,429.42 at the Royal Livingstone Hotel. The hotel overlooks the Zambezi River as it drops down over the Victoria Falls.

Shivambu posted several pictures of himself at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which is about 15km from the hotel as well as at the Victoria Falls Bridge.

On 2 January 2017, Shivambu and the Grand Azania bank card return to South Africa. The bank card makes a payment at a Zambian airport shop for R1,034,39.

Early that year, on 9 January 2017, the EFF hosts its first war council meeting at its headquarters in Braamfontein. A day later, the Grand Azania bank card buys groceries at the Hobart Spar in Bryanston. The shop is about 400m from where Shivambu rented a house at the time. This is the shop most visited by the bank card, where it bought R13,635.45 in groceries between November 2016 and May 2017. It matches the period of Shivambu’s stay in the area.

About a month later, on 19 February 2017, the bank card travels on the Gautrain from Sandton to OR Tambo Airport and spends R302 on a train ticket. The bank card spends R34 at the Vida Cafe at the airport, R1,662 on a South African Airways plane ticket and another R2,205 at the Premier Hotel in East London.

The next day, Shivambu posted a picture of his view from the East London International Convention Centre. The Grand Azania bank card then settled the bill where Shivambu stayed at the Premier Hotel for R465 and made a payment at Studio 88 situated in Oxford Road, East London. From here, the bank card bought another South African Airways plane ticket for R1,944.

By early March 2017, Shivambu was back in Johannesburg. The bank card linked to his slush fund was there as well. The EFF celebrated Julius Malema’s birthday at its headquarters in Braamfontein on 3 March. On the same day, the bank card buys products worth R8,850 from Louis Vuitton in Sandton.

The Grand Azania bank card followed Shivambu to Cape Town too. On 9 March 2017, Shivambu spoke in Parliament. The card paid for a shopping spree at the Cape Town V&A Waterfront, spending R1,999 at Pringle, R7,000 at Replay, R1,670 at The Body Shop and R820 in Bukhara Restaurant.

Excerpts from Grand Azania’s bank statements show how the bank card linked to this account followed Shivambu to Cape Town, too, despite his vehement denials of never having benefited from Grand Azania or stolen VBS money

On 29 April 2017, Shivambu wed Siphesihle Pezi in a traditional ceremony hosted in his home-town, Malamulele. The bank card was invited to the wedding in Limpopo too. It bought groceries for R15,454.36 at Mopani Spar and spent R13,922.62 at Shoprite Malamulele. It also withdrew R14,000 in cash at local ATMs.

Scorpio extensively reported on Shivambu’s wedding in the first article in this series.

Counting internet payments too, Grand Azania paid more than half a million rand for Shivambu’s wedding. Controversial businessman Lawrence Mulaudzi, an untraceable cash deposit of R190,000 and another deposit of R300,000 from a second Shivambu benefactor funded the Shivambu wedding.

Shivambu solicited the cash from Mulaudzi using messages sent through WhatsApp and iMessage.

Heita… Please don’t forget to activate that intervention. Am in great need,” Shivambu wrote to Mulaudzi in a WhatsApp on 27 March 2017, a month before his wedding.

(Mulaudzi’s cellphone messages were leaked to the Mpati Commission probing wrongdoing in the Public Investment Corporation, where Mulaudzi was fingered as an important roleplayer.)

Two days later, R200,000 from Mulaudzi reflected in the Grand Azania bank statements.

This is an excerpt from Grand Azania’s FNB bank statements. Variations of “Nyiko Floyd Shivambu” appear about 80 times in the bank statements.

Shivambu thanked him by inviting Mulaudzi to the wedding as well as sending a thank you note the day after the wedding. It read: “Thank you very much for the assistance towards the success of my wedding. We had a very fulfilling event to welcome Makote (new bride) wa ka Shivambu and all who partook are very happy and satisfied. I really appreciate.” Shivambu followed the message with two photographs of himself and his wife during their wedding ceremony.

This is a salient example of how Shivambu solicited cash he did not earn, directed it to a slush fund he attempted to disown and used it for his private benefit. Shivambu did not declare the “gift” to Parliament, nor to the South African Revenue Service.

The first VBS money deposited into Grand Azania reflected in its bank statements later that year, on 13 and 22 June 2017. Sgameka Projects effected a R400,000 and R500,000 payment.

Cash-flush, the Grand Azania bank card followed Shivambu to the Eastern Cape at the end of June. Again.

This time, Shivambu travelled through the greater East London district to address EFF members at local municipalities.

On 23 June, the bank card pays R2,895 at the Premier Hotel – an old favourite of Shivambu’s. Over the next two days, the card spent another R8,000 at the OhBrigado Champagne Bar in East London and R6,932.90 at the Garden Court at Mthatha.

Shivambu has, in the past, vehemently denied any knowledge of Grand Azania. When Scorpio pointed out that his brother was the director and owner of Grand Azania, Shivambu changed his tune slightly to say he had never benefited from Grand Azania.

The above comparison between Shivambu’s diary, as published on social media, and the bank statements of Grand Azania shows that his vehement denials would require a stretch of the imagination.

Between 2016 and 2018, Shivambu spent hundreds of thousands of rand in stolen VBS money as well as other dodgy cash on clothing from Burberry (R52,770), Gucci (R82,900), Louis Vuitton (R16,450), groceries from Spar (R13,635) and Shoprite (R13,923) and technology from Dion Wired (R13,329), iStore (R33,637) and Esquire Technology (R172,978).

Sgameka Projects also paid R180,000 in VBS money directly into Shivambu’s personal bank account.

The white Range Rover

Scorpio can further confirm Shivambu lied about his Range Rover. Again.

When the VBS money came rolling into Shivambu’s slush funds by mid-2017, the Range Rover was the first big-ticket item Shivambu bought with his part of the stash.

In August 2018, the Free State roads and transport department arrested Floyd Shivambu for hurtling down the N1 just outside Winburg towards Bloemfontein at a speed of 182km/h in a 120km/h zone. He was driving a white Range Rover Sport. Shivambu was arrested and taken to Winburg police station where he paid R2,000 to be released on bail, Sowetan reported at the time.

Shivambu was caught speeding in the same Range Rover he funded with money stolen from VBS Mutual Bank. It cost Shivambu R1.79-million, which he paid in four tranches between May and December 2017, Scorpio’s investigation shows.

The first payment was effected from Shivambu’s slush fund Sgameka Projects (R680,000) and an additional three payments were affected from Grand Azania (totalling R1.1-million). They were paid to a company named Trenditrade 23 Pty Ltd, which Scorpio confirmed trades as Land Rover Sandton in the affluent suburb of Johannesburg.

These payments were marked “NF Shivambu”.

If a VBS depositor managed to save R5,000 per month, it would have taken them 30 years to fund Shivambu’s Range Rover for him. The depositors of VBS Mutual Bank were some of the poorest people as well as some of the poorest municipalities in Limpopo – a region Shivambu calls home. By December 2017, when he effected the last payment towards his Range Rover, his slush funds had received more than R10-million in VBS money.

Land Rover Sandton declined comment, citing legal reasons.

This extract of Grand Azania’s bank statements show a R960,000 payment to Trenditrade 23 Pty Ltd, trading as Land Rover Sandton. The payment’s description is “Nfshivambu”. An emailed notification of payment has been sent to Trenditrade 23 on 25 November 2017. Further note the R3,000 payment to Shivambu’s brother Lucky, as well as the SMS notification sent to Lucky on 27 November 2017. Shivambu assisted several members of his family, including his parents, using stolen VBS money.

Mail & Guardian’s investigative team Thanduxolo Jika and Sabelo Skiti confronted Shivambu in September 2019 with the fact that poor VBS depositors had funded his Range Rover. Shivambu at first dismissed M&G as being part of a “co-ordinated attack of the EFF and its leadership”. He further explained that the vehicle was partly funded by a trade-in of his 2013 Range Rover Sport, which had been financed.

According to Shivambu, he “never got any money from VBS, and bought the Range Rover Sport long before I even knew there’s a bank called VBS”.

A week later, the M&G investigative team again challenged Shivambu’s version when they confronted him with a R680,000 payment from Sgameka Projects, which only ever received money from VBS.

Shivambu then admitted that the Range Rover Sport had been bought with money from Sgameka Projects. To tailor his story to M&G’s evidence, he suddenly introduced the sale of a 2012 BMW 7 Series which partly funded the Range Rover in his possession. Shivambu also maintained that the Range Rover put him just over R1-million out of pocket.

Shivambu refused to explain Scorpio’s conclusive findings on how his Range Rover was actually funded. Based on the evidence we have here, it is, however, clear that none of Shivambu’s versions cooked up to Daily Maverick, M&G and South Africa can possibly be true.

How does it all fit in with the R15.1-million Brian Shivambu received from VBS Mutual Bank?

Brian Shivambu’s company Sgameka Projects Pty Ltd received R15.1-million in cash siphoned out of the bank between 2017 and 2018. Various VBS-linked companies were used, including Malibongwe Petroleum, Vele Investments and Robvet – known to have acted as conduits of illicit money . There are no supporting documents or contracts to justify these amounts. Sgameka Projects also paid no tax, employees or any operational cost.

Wielding his influence, Shivambu also ensured that Sgameka Projectes further received an illegal home loan of R1.46-million and a possibly fraudulent business loan of R4-million.

These loans are another salient example of how Shivambu is the directing hand behind the accounts. The home loan was for a property gifted to his parents, situated in Mindalore in the west of Johannesburg. The business loan was meant for a wine bar in Soweto – a big ticket item we will unpack in the next article in this series.

The illegal VBS loans and cash were Sgameka Projects’ sole income, bank statements and supporting documents show.

It is therefore impossible to argue that any money flowing into or out of Sgameka Projects can be legitimate, as Shivambu recently attempted to argue.

Sgameka Projects distributed the VBS-loot as follows:

  • R6.16-million to Grand Azania, Floyd Shivambu’s slush fund;

  • R4.8-million to Mahuna Investments, Julius Malema’s own slush fund;

  • R1.3-million to two Standard Bank accounts owned by the Economic Freedom Fighters.

There is no legally sound reason for these distributions of illegal VBS money. Yet the brothers Shivambu and Malema have continuously denied any wrongdoing.

Diagram 2: Sgameka Projects received no additional income but R15.1-million in cash payments and two loans irregularly afforded to the company. It means that all funds flowing out of Sgameka Projects are the proceeds of crime.

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Anywhere where there is criminality (found in VBS), there must be accountability,” Julius Malema told South Africans on 16 October 2018. (From 18:40)

He then continued, saying he and Shivambu had “never received money from Sgameka [Projects] or Grand Azania or any of that sort in the EFF”. (From 18:50)

The EFF on that day called for the swift prosecution of all the criminals who robbed the VBS Mutual Bank. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the release of advocate Terry Motau and law firm Werksmans’ investigative report into the VBS looting.

In the past year, Scorpio has consistently shone a spotlight on what remained hidden; the EFF and its leaders have consistently changed their version, tailored to the latest information published. DM

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