Dit is van meet af aan riskant om die bestuur en beheer van jou organisasie uit jou hande te laat gaan. Wanneer jy nie meer self beheer en kontrole uitoefen oor jou bedryf, wat dit nou ookal mag wees, besigheid, boerdery, vervaardiging, bemarking, enige bedryf waarvan jy afhanklik is vir voortbestaan, is jy noodwendig uitgelewer aan die vaardigheid al dan nie, van hy,sy of hulle wat jou vervang het.
As ‘n Volk sy beheer en bestuur oorhandig het aan die “volk” wat in sy diens was, is die resultaat eweso riskant. In Afrika egter fataal! Met Afrika as aanskouingsles van die aard en “vaardigheid” van die Afrikaan, moet jy werklik kranksinnig wees om jou voortbestaan en die vooruitgang van jou land in die hande te plaas van wie jy oor eue kon sien, nie bevoeg was en vandag nog is, om hulle eie voortbestaan te orden en te verseker nie!
Nietemin het plig en verantwoordelikheid van die Afrikanervolk se leiers van die laat 60’s tot en met 1994, geswig voor die liberalisme en humanisme en Suid Afrika saam met die Afrikanervolk, soos deur ‘n politieke rukwind in’n maalkolk van verval ingesuig sonder om ag te slaan op die gevolge daarvan! In ‘n gees van fatalisme het die meerderheid van Afrikaners die stroom gevolg gebaseer op valse verwagtings van voorspoed en internasionale welwillendheid waarvan die aanduidings oor dekades die teendeel bewys het!
Dit is nou reeds 27 jaar van beproewing van die humanistiese en liberale beginsel van rasseintegrasie. Die “We are One” benadering wat nog nooit nêrens in die wêreld gewerk het nie. Wat ons nou beleef is die waarskuwing van ons oud President Paul Kruger dat as jy jou geskiedenis van die verlede ignorer, jy gedoem is om die foute van die verlede te herhaal! Lees die artikel van Kevin Bloom in die Daily Maverickkoerant hier onder en sien hoe ons land leeggesuig word vir persoonlike gewin! Ky dan terug tot waar ons die pad byster geraak het en keer terug na u volk, na u God en onttrek u van die stelsel waarin ons volk besig is om deur aanvaarding op te gaan!
Case number 35402/2010 – the Mabuzas and the giant Mpumalanga land claims ‘scam’
Illustrative image: Deputy President David Mabuza and his wife Nonhlanhla Patience Mnisi. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu) | Landscape of Barberton Mountain Lands. (Photo: Kevin Bloom)
By Kevin Bloom
19 Mar 2022 0
In early February 2022, a witness statement was submitted to the North Gauteng High Court that alleged Nonhlanhla Patience Mnisi, the wife of South Africa’s deputy president, had received “substantial commissions” on a sale of contested land in Badplaas. The witness, attorney Richard Spoor, was not led in oral testimony on the allegation, which kicked off an independent investigation by Daily Maverick. Following the trail led us back to 2004, to the core of the land claims scam itself. Along the way, we encountered a fake community trust, spurious land claims, brazen conmen and the involvement of Pam Golding Properties.
Mabuza is reforming himself before taking a tilt at the ANC presidency in 2027, but it’s worth remembering that he has perfected the system of provincial capture in ways that make the Gupta network look positively amateur. He is now the deputy president of South Africa. – Ivor Chipkin and Mark Swilling, Shadow State
I. Paragraph 52
“I have had a look at the statement of Mr Spoor,” said advocate Mike Hellens, “and there are matters there that require consultation with the client that I represent.”
It was just past 10.30 on the morning of 10 February 2022, and nobody involved in case number 35402/2010 of the North Gauteng High Court was under any illusion about which client or “specific matter” Hellens was referring to. The R1-billion civil suit, brought by conservationist Fred Daniel against the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and another 24 government entities in the long-distant past of July 2010, had reached a crux point. In the witness statement, as everybody knew, a devastating shot had been fired at the heart of the South African body politic.
Prepared by Richard Spoor, a public interest attorney with easily the strongest reputation in the country for defending the land rights of the marginalised, the document ran to 141 paragraphs over 23 pages. On the first page, with a slight tone of understatement, Spoor had noted his “extensive experience in the field of land reform and restitution”, adding over the course of his career he had “acted primarily for land claimants”.
Given that the core of case number 35402/2010 was essentially about the largest alleged land claims fraud in post-apartheid history, it would have been a banner day in court even without the contents of paragraph 52. Spoor, who had represented Daniel and his various Nkomazi Wilderness holding companies from 1999 to 2008, had by all accounts been a front-row observer of the alleged fraud – not just as an expert on the relevant legislation, but as a hands-on defender of the personal rights of his client, who had endured death threats, smear campaigns and violent intimidation.
True to form, as outlined in a previous piece in Daily Maverick’s long-running coverage of the case, Hellens was now leaning on the Stalingrad strategy to ensure that Spoor’s witness statement got thrown out. After returning from the requested consultation with his own client – Deputy President David Dabede Mabuza – it was more of the same.
“I want to address [the request of Hellens] that the defendants need more time to prepare,” objected Jacques Joubert, Daniel’s advocate. “The defendants have known for 12 years that Mr Spoor is a central part of this case.”
At 11.30am, by which time Hellens appeared to realise that he was getting nowhere with the “preparation time” argument, it was back to the apparent inadmissibility of Spoor’s document. According to the counsel for Mabuza, it was contrary to the principles of evidence that a witness be allowed to read from a prepared statement. Joubert, for his part, insisted that he would lead the witness orally – all he was requesting from Judge Cassim Sardiwalla, he said, was that Spoor be permitted to confirm the statement under oath.
“Call your witness and let’s get on,” said the judge, once he had satisfied himself that there was no legal prejudice to the defendants.
At 11.43am, via Microsoft Teams, Spoor took the virtual stand. “If I could just record,” said Hellens, “he’s about to put a witness statement before the court. It’s a pre-prepared statement; it’s inadmissible and irregular.”
The back-and-forth continued for a few minutes longer. “Once he confirms the statement,” noted Judge Sardiwalla, “that statement then becomes part of the evidence. What’s the problem?”
The problem, of course, was the contents of paragraph 52. This was why, at 12.04pm, when the witness statement finally appeared on screen, Hellens began to sound a little shrill. “This may be the point at which this trial becomes irregular!” he shouted.
But it was too late, the evidence had been admitted. There, for all to see, as Joubert conducted a quick scroll through the pages, was the explosive paragraph in all its glory:
“To the best of my recall substantial sale commissions were paid to Premier DD Mabuza’s wife, who was a Pam Golding estate agent.”
II. Hijacked trust
For the remainder of Thursday afternoon, 10 February 2022, and into Friday morning, Spoor was led methodically through the attorney’s letters and documents that backed up his testimony. Early on, he was asked by Joubert whether he knew a gentleman by the name of Pieter Visagie.
“Yes,” testified Spoor, before detailing Visagie’s role as a middleman in the alleged land claims fraud. “It was a scam designed to rip off the state, and principles of land reform and land redistribution did not feature highly at all.”
In Spoor’s witness statement, the paragraph that referred to “DD Mabuza’s wife” – namely, Nonhlanhla Patience Mnisi – had been buttressed on both sides by paragraphs that referred to Visagie. But Joubert, for whatever reason, did not ask Spoor to elaborate on the “substantial sale commissions” that Mnisi had purportedly received.
For Daily Maverick, then, establishing what Mnisi’s involvement was would entail an independent investigation. After gathering a set of documents that filled three lever arch files, the full scale of the alleged fraud that had been committed on South Africa’s citizens began to emerge.
From the perspective of the South African public, the alleged fraud had first come to light in early September 2004, when both Daniel and Spoor had featured in a City Press exposé entitled “SA’s own land grab”. Written by investigative reporter Justin Arenstein, the piece divulged that Mpumalanga’s then land claims commissioner, Nceba Nqana, had spent R25,7-million on six farms in the Badplaas district, despite the fact that these farms had originally been bought for a combined price of R4,3-million.
“This is not a good situation for anyone other than the profiteers,” Spoor had noted, referring to the R21,4-million in estimated profit that the speculators had milked.
In that first exposé, Visagie’s name had not been mentioned. But less than two weeks later, after the national government had ordered an investigation into 14 contentious deals in Mpumalanga that cost the taxpayer R72,1-million – very quickly, it appeared, the scope of the investigation had extended wider than the original six farms – the Badplaas farmer was outed.
“The deals have primarily benefited prominent local land speculator and farmer Pieter Visagie, who is chairperson of the local land reform and development forum that advises the government,” Arenstein noted in a follow-up piece for the Mail & Guardian in mid-September 2004.
“He is also tipped to help the Ndwandwa communities take over commercial farming enterprises on their new land as part of an R8,8-milllion additional support contract signed by Nqana and supported by community leaders.”
A few days later the third exposé dropped, in which Arenstein revealed that another seven farms had been added to the government investigation and that Visagie, who had been coming up with the wildly inflated prices and then selling the farms to the land claims commission, actually “managed” the Ndwandwa Community Trust. In the same piece, Daniel was named as the scam’s “chief whistle-blower”.
What was not revealed, however, was that the Ndwandwa Community Trust was about to be hijacked – and here, it so happened, was where the trail that would eventually lead to Mnisi appeared to begin (due to the sheer size and complexity of the alleged scam, the endpoint of the trail will be arrived at in section V below).
In a series of affidavits obtained by Daily Maverick, Robert Nkosi, the undisputed founder of the trust, would provide concrete evidence that the original deed had been signed and executed on 5 February 2004, before being sent to the Master of the High Court for registration on 30 March of the same year. Nkosi, who would learn of the land claims scam through the media, would also provide testimony that he “came into conflict” with Visagie. This would result, ultimately, in the registration of a second “illegal” trust deed on 22 November 2006.
Nkosi, again providing concrete evidence, would show that the original deed had been removed from the Master of the High Court’s file “under the pretence that the trust was to be amended”. This was done even though the original deed had stipulated that amendments could only be made “with the consent of the founder during his lifetime” – Nkosi, needless to say, had given no such consent.
The Master of the High Court had apparently been “duped into issuing new letters of authority”, Nkosi would testify, because he believed that the originals had been stolen.
“The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Ndwandwa Community Trust was hijacked as a vehicle to milk the land reform funds,” he would add, “and when I refused to be part of the scheme the [regional land claims commission] officials and other officials conspired with Mr Visagie, who wanted me out of the way”.
The upshot of it all, according to the evidence, was that Visagie would continue to run the Ndwandwa Community Trust without interference. Despite a report by Derrick Griffiths of the SA Institute of Valuers that the farms were “overvalued by at least R40-million”, plus another report by Ernst & Young – also commissioned by the national government – suggesting that criminal charges should be laid, Visagie was left in control of the trust.
In March 2005, the then minister of agriculture and land affairs, Thoko Didiza, had promised Parliament that her department would bring all the perpetrators to book, but her sole action in the end was the suspension of Nqana and a senior project manager at the regional land claims commission, Linda Mbatha.
Almost a year later, in February 2006, President Thabo Mbeki would cite the Badplaas scam in his state of the nation address – the scandal, he declared, proved that the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle of land reform was flawed. To speed up the process, Mbeki noted, the government would begin to consider “expropriation” as a more effective means of reform.
As journalist Rehana Rossouw would point out in her seminal Predator Politics: Mabuza, Fred Daniel and the Great Land Scam, published in October 2020, his white neighbours in the Badplaas farming community would all blame Daniel for the threat.
Asked by Daily Maverick to comment on his role in Mbeki’s sabre-rattling for this piece, Daniel was dismissive.
“It’s bullshit,” he told us, “they got it all wrong. The real problem was in the government – and it still is.”
III. Murder, Inc
As readers of this series will remember, Spoor’s testimony wasn’t the first time that Visagie’s name had been mentioned in the North Gauteng High Court. On 6 September 2021, during the final days of the first round of hearings in case number 35402/2010, forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan mentioned the Badplaas speculator too. O’Sullivan, who had been approached in 2014 by a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters to look into ongoing land claims fraud in Mpumalanga, had focused his attention on five randomly chosen farms in the Badplaas region.
On the basis of his investigation, O’Sullivan testified, which revealed the same pattern of fake land claims and extreme overvaluation of sale prices, he had concluded that the fraudulent practise extended throughout Mpumalanga, estimating the size of the loss to the South African taxpayer at “somewhere in the region of R2-billion”.
Visagie, it transpired, was the primary middleman in O’Sullivan’s report – he was the same individual who, in the mid- to late-2000s, was still approaching local Badplaas farmers, offering them a deal they couldn’t refuse as long as they didn’t dispute the land claim, and splitting the difference in the hugely inflated on-sale to the regional land claims commission. On the back of these findings, O’Sullivan testified, he had laid criminal charges against Visagie and “the former premier of Mpumalanga”, DD Mabuza.
Nothing came of the charges, O’Sullivan testified, although there was another alleged fraud that he had uncovered.
“What we found rather strange,” he told the court, “was that there were letters and memorandums being pushed around [the Mpumalanga provincial government’s department of agriculture and land reform] which were motivating cash payments to Mr Visagie… It was our conclusion that the payments in question amounted to further fraud and we requested the state to investigate that as well”.
“Apolice source involved in the investigation let slip to local journalists that the murder was potentially linked to Mpatlanyane’s refusal to award the tender to ‘a friend of a prominent ANC leader in the province’.
There was one specific letter that Joubert, Daniel’s advocate, focused upon. It was dated 9 December 2008, when Mabuza was still the MEC for agriculture and land affairs in Mpumalanga. According to this letter, Visagie was owed a further R3,3-million, on top of the R18-million that the department had already paid him – which, as O’Sullivan stated, was on top of “the monies that were paid in respect of those five farms”.
Less than a month later, as evidence submitted before the court, Mabuza would sign off on another letter that effectively authorised payment of the R3,3-million to Visagie. By May 2009, Mabuza would beat off all contenders to assume the province’s most powerful political seat.
It was the year before the Fifa World Cup, when massive tenders were up for grabs. Back in January 2009, when Mabuza was still the MEC, speaker of the Mbombela council Jimmy Mohlala had been shot dead in his home, following which his widow and children had been interrogated and tortured. Mohlala’s “mistake”, it was reported in the press, was to actively oppose the illegal eviction of the Matsefeni community from their land, which had been identified as the site of the new Mbombela soccer stadium.
Regardless of the fact that the Matsefeni community had successfully applied to the Mbombela High Court for an urgent interdict, with the judge declaring that certain elements within the provincial legislature had been acting like colonialist-era “land grabbing politicians”, Mabuza, in his dual role as ANC provincial chairperson, had openly called for disciplinary measures against Mohlala.
Like the Visagie matter, the murder of Mohlala would never arrive at closure in criminal prosecution. Neither would the murders of Sammy Mpatlanyane, James Nkambule and about a dozen other senior ANC politicians who had been assassinated in the province since 1998. But, as Daily Maverick recently reported, the long-held suspicions that linked Mabuza to these murders would not fade away.
In December 2021, Mabuza’s attorneys would submit a 60-page application to the Mbombela High Court, demanding that Mpumalanga political activist Joel Pompie Letwaba refrain from alleging on national TV that their client was “responsible for ordering the killing of people”. Letwaba, we noted, had retained the services of an advocate to oppose the application.
So what did all of this have to do with Mnisi?
In part, the answer to the question could be located in a report that had been authored by renowned academic and activist Dale McKinley. Dated September 2011 and published on the website of the South African Civil Society Information Service, the report focused near its end on the murder of Mpatlanyane, who had been gunned down outside his home almost a year to the day after Mohlala was murdered. This time, according to McKinley, it was “the outrageous R20-million tender for Mbombela’s 2010 World Cup fan park that provided the context and cause”.
“A police source involved in the investigation let slip to local journalists that the murder was potentially linked to Mpatlanyane’s refusal to award the tender to ‘a friend of a prominent ANC leader in the province’. In the event, the tender went to Pasqa Africa whose director, Izak van der Walt, was a long-time close business associate of Nonhlanhla Patience Mnisi, the wife of new Mpumalanga premier, David Mabuza.”
IV. The conman and the sale
While this was going on, out in Badplaas the new owners of Nkomazi Wilderness were looking to dispose of their non-core asset, into which they had sunk R340-million since buying the remaining 50% from Daniel in September 2008. As part of the deal, Daniel had retained 2,000 hectares of his original 39,000-hectare reserve, in the hopes that the government would take action against the fake land claimants and he could then raise the capital to refinance his dream. But the new owners of Nkomazi, the Emirati state-owned company Dubai World, were not nearly as opposed to the land scam as Daniel himself.
In December 2010, Daniel was approached by the local director of Dubai World, Willem Dreyer, to ask if he was interested in buying back Nkomazi. At the same time, it turned out, Dreyer was also attempting to sell the reserve to the regional land claims commission.
Into the breach stepped a man by the name of Gustav de Waal, who had, according to the affidavits obtained by Daily Maverick, been a key player alongside Visagie in the hijacking of the Ndwandwa Community Trust. As reported by The Namibian newspaper in June 2010, De Waal had also been accused by his partners of “double-dealing” in a failed N$3-billion biofuel project in that country, with one of his former employees describing him as “the sweetest conman you will ever meet”.
For this specific “con” – an epithet that would soon be confirmed by the evidence – De Waal had registered a South African company under the grandiose name of Investment for Agricultural Sustainability in Africa, or Ifasa. In early 2010, Ifasa had partnered with the Ndwandwa Community Trust, knowing that its letters of authority were fake (see above). The aim of the partnership was to purchase Nkomazi Wilderness, with government backing, on behalf of the Badplaas land claimants. De Waal claimed to have R2,5-billion on hand for just such an investment.
Dreyer, meanwhile, would admit the following to Daniel via email in January 2011, after he had been confronted by the conservationist with what he knew:
“The reason we embarked on this route [with Ifasa] is that relying on the court process proved to be tedious with a long and protracted timeframe. Legal counsel opinion supports our view that these claims are spurious in nature; however, they remain a land claim until proven to be spurious in the Land Claims Court or de-gazetted.”
As proof of the government’s involvement, amongst the trove of documents obtained by Daily Maverick was an email from Lucas Mufamadi, operations director of the regional land claims commission, to Dreyer. Dated 18 January 2011 and cc’d to Tumi Seboka, former head of the regional land claims commission who – according to Rossouw in Predator Politics – was about to act as a “facilitator” for both Ifasa and Mabuza at a meeting in Badplaas, the email referred to a memorandum of understanding that had been negotiated between the parties the previous year.
“Which of the two options reflected in the memorandum of understanding do you prefer?” Mufamadi asked Dreyer in the email.
The options, as reflected on page 9 of the MoU, were either that the entirety of the property would be purchased for R350-million, or that just the properties in the “south” would be purchased for R60-million.
Daniel and his business partner John Allen would scupper the plans of Dubai World, Ifasa, the Ndwandwa Community Trust and the provincial government. In an urgent application to the North Gauteng High Court in June 2011, Daniel would provide evidence that Ifasa was a front for the land claimants, that “the whole transaction was dependent upon the obtaining of a state-issued guarantee somewhere in the region of R350-million”, and that the company had every intention of changing the land use from conservation to agriculture as soon as they had control. Separately, Daniel was able to confirm via Ifasa’s lawyer, who claimed that De Waal owed him money, that the promise of a R2,5-billion investment was false.
In tandem with the application to interdict the sale, Ndwandwa Community Trust founder Robert Nkosi, backed and supported by Daniel, was preparing to lay criminal charges at the Badplaas police station – the first against Visagie and the fake trustees, and the second against the three directors of Ifasa. At a meeting in Pretoria in September 2011, attended by Nkosi, Daniel, Allen and the Master of the High Court, proof was furnished that the trust had been hijacked.
On 11 October 2011, the Master of the High Court pulled the trigger. In a letter to Nkosi on a Department of Justice letterhead, the Master noted that the trust’s letters of authority dated November 2006 were to be “revoked with immediate effect” and that the letters of authority dated May 2004 were henceforth considered “valid”. Within less than a month, on 4 November 2011, Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann issued a court order that the fake trustees should resign and that Nkosi should be reinstated.
As for the urgent interdict that Daniel had brought back in June, the scam had now collapsed along with the deal. But importantly, before Deputy Judge President Willem van der Merwe on 4 October 2011, Dubai World’s counsel had provided an undertaking to Daniel’s counsel that the company would not sell Nkomazi until all of the disputes in the interdict proceedings had been resolved. Given that he was still a partial landowner with “full traversing rights”, Daniel’s argument was that it would be catastrophic to sell to the fake land claimants and to change the land use.
After the court order of Judge Bertelsmann, the interdict had become moot. Still, Dubai World, who now couldn’t get their R350-million bank guarantee from the government, remained tied up with Daniel on the issue of partial ownership and traversing rights – and so the company’s undertaking not to sell would remain in place, subject to arbitration.
In late June 2015, while the matter was still under arbitration, Daniel took a phone-call from Spoor. His former attorney, who had since 2008 been proffering his land rights expertise to Dubai World, informed the conservationist that the south of the nature reserve had just been sold. Daniel, shocked, asked Spoor to verify the sale. A few days later, he received a print-out from the deeds office.
The new owner of a consolidated 12,000 hectares in the south of Nkomazi, as per the printout, was the national government of the Republic of South Africa. The purchase price was listed as R45-million.
The consolidated properties, when broken up by Daily Maverick into their original component farms, were practically identical to the farms listed in the scuppered MoU between Dubai World, the regional land claims commission, the fake Ndwandwa Community Trust and the disgraced Ifasa.
V. Agency of the year
In her profile on the website of Pam Golding Properties, South Africa’s leading real estate agency and the winner of Best International Real Estate Agency at the 2020/2021 International Property Awards, Nonhlanhla Patience Mnisi opens with the fact that she has been employed by the company since 2012. “Granted,” she writes, “my name is Patience but I am not slow.” She casts herself as a “diligent, thorough and eager partner” in her clients’ real estate endeavours. Her “most notable sales were achieved in May 2015,” she goes on, “to the value of R5-million”.