/ 19 January 1990

Holomisa explains the row with SA

Transkei military ruler Major-General Bantu Holomisa has revealed the real reason for the diplomatic crisis raging between his country and ”Big Brother” South Africa: his government has refused to play ball with state-linked commercial interests in the territory. According to Holomisa, Foreign Minister Pik Botha held a gun to his head over two cases being fought in Transkei courts – threatening to withdraw the TBVC Customs Union if Transkei failed to comply.

One of the cases involves a company which owns the car allegedly used in an assassination attempt on Holomisa in December last year. The company, Jalc Holdings, was deeply implicated in the Harms Commission’s report into ”homeland” corruption. In evidence before the commission the names of various government ministers – notably Pik Botha himself. – were linked with the company. Though at the time Botha denied he had any connection with the company, managing director Chris van Rensburg was reported to have, used Botha’s name and involvement in his operation as a selling point while setting up business deals. And even at this point, Holomisa; said, Botha was putting pressure on him to pay, out the money allegedly owed to Jalc Holdings. 

The other case, involves the withdrawal of a sorghum beer import concession – held since the days of Trankei’s former premier, KD Matanzima – by a Durban company, Delmac Agencies. According to Holomisa, actions by his government against the two companies were specifically mentioned by Botha as reasons for the collapse of the Customs Union. South Africa is threatening to withhold R205-million promised to Transkei. Botha’s demands were made despite the fact that both companies are involved in ongoing court cases. Holomisa said he responded by referring the matters back to the courts and the decisions which would come from the process of law. But Botha rejected this as a solution. The issue of the brewing concession was also raised by State President FW de Klerk after he was handed a written note by Botha during a diplomatic luncheon. 

In the case of Temba Construction, the Jalc subsidiary, the court action involved the nonpayment of R11-million by Transkei. Transkei authorities claimed that a housing project built by Temba was not satisfactorily completed. Under the Matamzima brothers Delmac Agencies had been awarded a highly lucrative sorghum beer importing concession. Holomisa declined to renew the contract after Delmac refused to comply with various requests to increase the local economic input into the distribution. As the diplomatic row between Holomisa’s military government and the South African government reaches boiling point, questions pile up regarding the role of the South Africa in alleged destabilisation and corruption in the ”homeland”. 

On December 27 1ast year Transkei arrested two South Africans, allegedly out to kill Holomisa. The arrest was made ”on intelligence received”. Prior to their detention the two had been kept under surveillance for some days – during which time they allegedly photographed and drew plans of strategic Transkei installations. Both men were discovered to have police connections; one of them is a serving constable in the South African Police at Kliptown, Soweto, and the other is a former policeman. 

Ownership of the car in which the two men were driving has been traced to Jalc Holdings, whose secret government connections were submitted as evidence before the Harms Commission Jalc admitted ownership of the vehicle but claimed that a Temba Construction director had permission to use the car in Johannesburg over the 1989 Christmas period. Meanwhile Transkei is demanding that Temba Construction director, Vuyildlela Mbotoli, who was in possession of the car, be handed over. South Africa refused and instead demand the return of the two hitmen.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.


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