Business Maverick


Sekunjalo plans to sue government for R75-billion

Illustrative image | Cyril Ramaphosa; Iqbal Surve, Sekunjalo Group CEO (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lerato Maduna | Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg | Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)

The company has been mired in controversy for years, and the house of cards appears to be falling. Most recently, Nedbank won a Supreme Court of Appeal case, allowing it to close Sekunjalo bank accounts.

After months and possibly years of crying sabotage, Sekunjalo Investment Holdings has given notice of its intention to sue various South African organs of state including the Presidency for R75-billion worth of damages.

The company said on Tuesday that it has delivered notices to Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Republic of South Africa, the National Treasury, the minister of finance, and the minister of justice as well as the State Attorney.

Sekunjalo claims elements of the South African state “have been corrupted and used to deliberately undermine and wish harm on Sekunjalo’s executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé, and companies allied to the group, with the clear and determined aim of barring them from participating in the South African economy”.

The company has been mired in controversy for years, and the house of cards appears to be falling. Most recently, Nedbank won a Supreme Court of Appeal case, allowing it to close Sekunjalo bank accounts.

Absa, FNB, Investec and Mercantile Bank all started the process of closing the accounts in 2020 after the Mpati Commission raised questions about the relationship between the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Sekunjalo; and a subsequent PIC investment in AYO Technology. Reportedly, a total of 28 banks and representative offices of foreign banks have turned down Sekunjalo’s business, making the banking sector’s boycott very nearly universal. 

However, Sekunjalo maintains that “the genesis of the attacks on it stems from its purchase of Independent Media in 2013”. 

In a somewhat telling statement, the company baldly states: “The purpose of the legal action is to not only claim for damages of $4-billion but to clear the companies’ names — once and for all.” So, it’s not just about the money.

Or maybe it is. After the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) invested R4.3-billion in 2017, AYO Technology, ultimately controlled by Survé, continued paying huge dividends despite its losses, resulting in the gradual reduction of the PIC’s original investment. The investment, by the way, was made on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF). 

The PIC later questioned the legitimacy of the processes that led to the investment and entered into a mediated agreement with AYO in March last year. The settlement included AYO paying the PIC R20 a share for an immediate 5% share buyback. The GEPF has the option of selling another 5% of the shares back to AYO in three years, subject to the solvency of AYO and at a predetermined price of at least R20 a share. 

The settlement means that the PIC and the GEPF by extension will have locked in losses of at least R2.5-billion in this controversial investment. In the meantime, the GEPF will remain a 25.1% shareholder of AYO and have one board seat for every 10% of the company it owns. The GEPF representative will also chair the board. 

Potential delisting threat

Sekunjalo and all its related companies are facing threats on several fronts. Independent Media retrenched a third of its staff in November. Less than a week ago, the Financial Mail reported that the JSE was preparing to suspend AYO and AEEI shares if the two Sekunjalo-related companies fail to release their annual reports by the end of this month. 

Listed companies are required to release their reports within four months of the year-end; which means that both Ayo and AEEI should have published their annual reports by 31 December 2023. DM 


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dee Bee says:

    Desperate and delusional.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    This sounds like a case for Dali!

  • Trenton Carr says:

    Bicycle face is losing the plot, and it is glorious to see.

    • MaverickMe says:

      @Trenton – When I first read your comment I was rather confused as to why you referred to Iqbal as ‘Bicycle face’ and only now did it dawn on me. Have not heard that term since high school and it is actually very funny!

  • Mr Mersault says:

    So this oke Iqbal wants to sue his way to becoming president??

  • Coen Gous says:

    Gosh, why just R75 billion? Why not 75 million dollars or pounds? Guess he will need that to save his empire.

  • Jennifer D says:

    So incredibly disappointing – where are the non criminals in this country?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    We can all help stop this man.

    One easy way is don’t buy products from Loot online.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Love it. Two rapacious and parasitic crooks at each other’s throat. The real and true character of Survé is coming out as he is nothing but a fraudster hiding behind being a “struggle” veteran, disadvantaged and enjoying all the OTP and shameful benefits of BEE. It is a case of all those who have done business with him and have parted with their money being severely disadvantaged! Not that the vile anc is any better- birds of a feather.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Crazy? But meanwhile he’s the one with the R4B and being away with it

  • Nick Griffon says:

    He finally lost the plot completely.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    What does one say! Guy lives a lie!

  • James Miller says:

    Biting the hand that fed him. They deserve each other.

  • Rae Earl says:

    The awful and universally disliked Iqbal Surve has played the race card to death to curry favour with the black community and the ruling party. It will be interesting to see if he tries the same ploy against the ANC now that he has plundered the government’s mostly black employee’s pension fund and now seeks to further enrich himself by looting tax payer’s money.

  • potwanaf says:

    The country trending in corruption is sure to loose assets and people will suffer. ANC must be voted out.

  • Con Tester says:

    Let’s get our headlines correct, please.

    “Iqbal »You *MUST* Call Me ‘Doctor’« Survé plans to sue the South African taxpayer via the government for R75-billion.”

    Perhaps a little clumsy, but certainly much more accurate!

  • Peter Worman says:

    Seems like the party is over and no amount of bluster is ever going to save them

  • M D Fraser says:

    Now, let me see. Surve’ sues the SA Govt. If he wins, it’s the taxpayers who will pay.
    Then Surve’ can share the spoils with the ANC. Neat, isn’t it ?

  • Has anyone considered a medical intervention for this poor deluded man, mind you he is a Doctor after all and therein lies the problem. Self diagnosis is at best dangerous at worst very entertaining for the rest of us, I will get the popcorn. Time to put this lingering , festering blight of an excuse of a Company to sleep for good.

  • adiosguy says:

    The saga of Sekunjalo and its owner Iqbal Surve is taking on a whole new turn, first Surve took on the racist white newspapers then bought the independent news, and now is going to sue the state.
    Our dysfunctional government has put a negative slant on his newspapers while not appreciating their elevated literary content according to Surve. Wow.
    Life will get interesting for Iqbal without banks wanting to be involved in Sekunjale.

  • Random Comment says:

    This is the important part of the article:

    “After the PIC invested R4.3-BILLION in 2017, AYO Technology, ultimately controlled by Survé, CONTINUED PAYING huge DIVIDENDS despite its LOSSES, resulting in the gradual reduction of the PIC’s original investment”.

    Interpretation: loss-making business was given ZAR4,300,000,000 of Gov employee pension fund money under pretense of creating a BBBEE media company, which money was used to pay Iqbal Surve HUGE bonuses (as the majority shareholder).

  • Ali Mohsseni-Langroudi says:

    It’s too hot to touch this potato.
    Better not to comment at all. When
    possibly would not be serving its rightful purpose in the long run. …

  • Brett Redelinghuys says:

    Sekunjalo claims elements of the South African state “have been corrupted and used to deliberately undermine and wish harm on Sekunjalo’s executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé, and companies allied to the group, with the clear and determined aim of barring them from participating in the South African economy”.
    Me thinks the Pot and Kettle are trading insults. What a hoot.
    The best thing about these people is that they keep the legal professional “gainfully” employed… Sadly the t the SA Pensioners who are paying the bills.

  • John Buchan says:

    SA hasn’t got R75 billion available you idiot.

  • Dermot Quinn says:

    Backing this jockey ended in tears. PIC/GEPF should be claiming back from their employees involved in this deal.

  • JAJ Stewart says:

    Legal discovery is a wonderful thing. Prepare to lay it all bare, Icky.

  • Arthur Lilford says:

    Perhaps this is another move by the “Leaders” of our country to get more money out and into the Dubai accounts – if Surve’ is succesfull and this is not a pipe dream – then the tax payers will fork out billions and then later distributed to the ones in the know – scary thought – thieves will unite to score big on this one

  • Tim Price says:

    An interesting ploy. Itchy sues Squirrel who then agrees to settle the claim…even 50% of 75 billion would be good win. Watch this space 😉

  • When the axe came into the woods, the trees cried don’t worry he is one of us .

  • Kent Kihl says:

    Apart from being a stupid idea, it shows that instead of making good news papers or media houses, he using his resources on a complete failure. On the other hand the IOL group has lost it, none of its papers contains much reading. The only professionals working for IOL are probably the ones that no one else would employ.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Short cut : assess whether over all years, at the time of such, the directors of the company could satisfy the liquidity and solvency requirement on directors that approved entirely insane dividends and buying total garbage companies at vaaaaastly inflated prices, related parties to the royal family of Ayo.

    Please sue me for saying that this entire scheme is a fraud on GEPF.

  • Chris Lee says:

    He’s a legend in his own mind that guy. I still live in hope that he will get his comeuppance in due course.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options