Brian Shivambu’s years-long denial and angry claims about the legitimacy of the VBS loot he funnelled to his brother Floyd Shivambu and EFF leader Julius Malema collapsed this week when Scorpio made public his secret admission of wrongdoing in this tragic saga that left thousands of the poorest of the poor out of pocket and out of options.
Brian Shivambu signed an acknowledgement of debt for R4.55-million with Vele Investments (VBS’s main shareholder, propped up with VBS money) while admitting that there was “no underlying basis for the payment”. The admission was “protected” by a confidentiality clause his lawyers insisted on. This R4.55-million is a piece of the larger sum of about R20-million in VBS loot funnelled to the EFF and its leaders.
Stripped of the legalese, Brian Shivambu admitted that the VBS loot was paid into his bank account for no legitimate reason. The last time we checked, that’s illegal.
This admission blows away the bluster, the threats and the abuse meted out by the EFF leader, Julius Malema, his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, and their army of thugs, trolls and bots to Scorpio’s investigator Pauli van Wyk and Daily Maverick over the past three years.
Using bank statements and documents, Van Wyk traced about R20-million in loans and cash through several layers of front companies right into the pockets of Floyd Shivambu and Malema. This easy money propped up their lifestyles and their political aspirations.
When they got caught out way back in October 2018, they challenged Van Wyk to “bring the proof”. Famous now are the words of Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in an EFF presser:
“The EFF reiterates its position that all who are responsible and illegally benefited from the fraud must be criminally prosecuted immediately…. Above all, the law enforcement agencies must do all they can to ensure that all the money that can be recovered must be paid back in full….”
Ah, those golden days of high decibels and unchallenged lies by the EFF top brass.
When she did publish reams of bank statements proving their crimes, Malema and Shivambu called Van Wyk Satan, a witch, crazy and, of course, a dog of white monopoly capital. It was classic dog-whistling – EFF supporters followed these up with threats of rape, hanging and burning.
The EFF leaders’ hate of being held to account and affinity for acting with impunity spilled over into further violence against journalists and state officials. Shivambu is charged with assaulting journalist Adrian de Kock. Similarly, and also caught on video, Malema and Ndlozi are charged with assaulting a police officer.
Malema, in the meantime, “banned” Scorpio, Daily Maverick, amaBhungane and, later, eNCA from the EFF’s events, in a now classic frothing-at-the-mouth speech next to that figure of Robert Mugabe, his Hitler-style moustache prominent on the shiny wax face.
This show of kragdadigheid and censorship was extended to prospective judges, too. In recent Judicial Service Commission (JSC) proceedings where candidates for the Bench were interviewed to test their fitness and propriety, Malema (aided by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, but that is a discussion for another editorial) acted as if he were on a party political platform. In an act of breathtaking impropriety, Malema aggressively questioned judges on cases before court that he himself is a party to.
So egregious were proceedings that Casac (Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution) initiated a review process in court to challenge the constitutionality of the interviews, calling them “seriously irregular”.
How do we read the themes of Malema’s conduct, a politician who also has the ability to turn on the charm when the need arises? The answer: It all stands in the bigger context of Malema’s criminal monetisation of his political power. During the period in which they hounded former president Jacob Zuma and former minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene for being immoral, Malema and Shivambu were spending the VBS loot they had received as “lobbying fees” on living the high life and even on the EFF’s fourth birthday bash in Umlazi, KZN. We have the bank statements to prove it.
While they were positioning themselves as the moral leaders of the oppressed, Malema and Shivambu were exchanging their political power for gifts and “interventions”. And cash, loads of it. We have the WhatsApp messages to prove this, too. Van Wyk found out and documented how VBS was but one income stream – Shivambu’s wedding and Malema’s properties were funded by several other businesspeople.
By attacking the media and using their race and gender against them, the EFF leaders were seeking to delegitimise our investigations and reportage. If no one believes Van Wyk and Daily Maverick, the EFF leaders are safe and free to continue their looting spree(s). By assaulting journalists and government officials, an image of volatility is projected which is likely to make opponents cower away from possible violence. By harassing prospective judges on a public platform about decisions he doesn’t agree with – and having a say in which judges will ultimately land on the Bench – Malema is producing a chilling effect for anyone who dares report, investigate or decide against him and the EFF.
The day will arrive when the SA Revenue Service, the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority come knocking. Malema knows that. He has started to prepare for that eventuality. The tactic: Take away their believability, style yourself as a victim and the last true hope of the marginalised, and the masses will protect you. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Malema has always been a true Zuma protégé.
Our three-year investigation proves what by now is an open secret: the EFF and its leaders aren’t the protectors of the poor, an image they invested a lot of shouting in. Our exposés have blown away that cover.
The EFF’s last defence will be that of a guilty person:
“But what about them?”; “Others took more money than we did, why are you not chasing them?”; and the classic, “You don’t write about white people’s crimes.”
Apart from the fact that it is not true that we’ve been investigating only the misdeeds of the EFF’s leaders (an internet connection, Google and few spare minutes is enough to verify this statement), one cannot but be struck by how ridiculously transparent this final throw of sand in the eyes of the public is.
Look over there, others are bigger crooks than us. How pathetic.
They could have been somebody. They could have been contenders.
Now, they are just a group of exposed thieves, standing in front of you, the South African public, asking you to love them… because others stole even more than they did. DM