Trifecta whistleblower offered police protection

A former employee of the company the Mail & Guardian exposed last week for giving kickbacks to Parliamentary committee chairperson Yolanda Botha has been offered witness protection by the police.

Within hours of the newspaper hitting the streets, police contacted Magdalena Buizer to inform her that she was in danger.

Buizer, who worked as an accountant at Trifecta Investment Holdings, the company accused of giving kickbacks to Botha, was quoted as alluding to “irregularities and corruption” at the company.

She also claimed that she was ordered to reallocate payments for renovating Botha’s Kimberley property to another account so the renovation “could not be traced”.

Both Botha and Trifecta have denied any wrongdoing and have claimed that building work done on Botha’s house was based on a R500 000 “loan” from Trifecta.

Buizer arrived at the M&G‘s offices on Tuesday this week, accompanied by two police officers.

Although they identified themselves, the officers asked not to be named in the media because of the sensitivity of Buizer’s situation.

“In view of the fact that my life is in danger, I have decided to make a media statement and simultaneously a sworn affidavit to the police, and to hand over documents which I have kept in a safety deposit box over a period of time during my employment at Trifecta,” Buizer said.

Buizer has given the M&G full access to six files of documents dating from 2006 to 2010.

She also spent several hours at our offices explaining the implications of the documents contained in the files.

She has provided police with the same information, together with a sworn affidavit.

“I always knew that I would have to keep a ‘Pandora’s Box’ [of documents] because the day would come when I would either be scapegoated or implicated,” she said.

An accountant with 35 years experience, she joined Trifecta in 2004 and worked closely with the company’s directors at their head office in Pretoria.

In March 2010, Buizer resigned. Her resignation letter cited “serious corruption within the group of companies” that caused her “severe depression and anxiety”.

Buizer opted for a constructive dismissal. She went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, and Trifecta paid her out.

She signed a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement.

“I have consulted with senior counsel regarding the agreement and was informed that it was contra bonos mores [‘against good morals’ and therefore illegal] so I can talk,” Buizer said.

“I feel far more secure coming out in the media and spilling all the beans because [if something happens], then everybody knows what it’s about. I’m not going to be intimidated,” she said.

In response to initial questions about the documents contained in Buizer’s files, Trifecta director Christo Scholtz said Buizer’s allegations were “false” and “malicious”.

“Buizer’s perception that a person can facilitate rental agreements with government organs is a false perception, which she also carries over to mislead other people.”

He said Buizer’s claim that she would have been aware of any “loan” to Botha was incorrect, as she “was not entrusted with information about the company which did not form part of her duties”.

This article was produced by amaBhungane, investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit initiative to enhance capacity for investigative journalism in the public interest.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

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