Lebashe takes UDM to court in clash over PIC corruption claims

Bantu Holomisa told News24 that this did not come as a surprise, as Lebashe had indicated that it intended to pursue its legal options in its correspondence to the UDM late last week. (Gallo)

Bantu Holomisa told News24 that this did not come as a surprise, as Lebashe had indicated that it intended to pursue its legal options in its correspondence to the UDM late last week. (Gallo)

UPDATE:

In a media statement, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa confirmed that Lebashe Investment Group and Harith General Partners are taking the party to court. Holomisa added that the UDM would defend its case.

According to Holomisa, the lawsuit has emerged after the party asked “some pertinent questions” of President Cyril Ramaphosa “regarding possible conflict of interest and an alleged corrupt relationship between various role-players linked to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), its Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) and the two aforementioned companies.”

“In all our correspondence with President Ramaphosa, we asked that he should widen scope of the state capture commission to include the matters we brought under his attention as the alleged corruption runs into billions of rands; this is state capture of a different kind. We have yet to hear from President Ramaphosa,” the statement read. 

According to the statement, the UDM has been “inundated with calls from government employees who are concerned about the investment practices of the PIC which might compromise their pensions as held by the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF)”.

The Lebashe Investment Group has filed an urgent application in the high court in Pretoria against the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and its leader, General Bantu Holomisa.

This comes after the UDM called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to address what it called an “iceberg of corruption” at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), claiming it has uncovered several individuals and companies involved in pillaging the institution.

Chief among the entities implicated by the UDM, was Lebashe and its directors Warren Wheatley, a former PIC staffer Tshepo Mahloele, and the former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi.

On Friday, Wheatley indicated that Lebashe and those named in the UDM’s letter were taking legal advice on the matter.

“Legal counsel is advising the parties in regard to various legal proceedings, including laying criminal charges of crimen injuria against the UDM and Mr Holomisa personally and issuing them with a summons for defamation and damages as a result of the reputational and economic harm that the letter has caused.”

News24 has learned that Lebashe has pushed ahead in pursuit of its legal remedies, and has now approached the North Gauteng High Court for relief.

The unsigned papers were delivered to the UDM and Holomisa early on Monday afternoon, with legal service to commence either later on Monday or early on Tuesday morning.

Lebashe denied claims

When news of the allegations broke last week, both Lebashe and the PIC vehemently denied the allegations.

“The motive behind the letter is for Mr (Bantu) Holomisa, at the expense of both our entities and professional reputations, to attract public attention for his own political gain.
We refute the allegations in the letter which are unsubstantiated and unfounded,” Wheatley told News24 at the time.

The PIC’s Deon Botha also denied the claims.

“We wish to reiterate our stance that the PIC follows a rigorous investment process in all its dealings and investments.  The PIC’s investment processes are such that no one person – in particular, the PIC CEO - is vested with all the powers to unilaterally make investment decisions.”

The UDM said in its letter to Ramaphosa that the information was received as a tip-off from a “reliable source”.

More spurious claims

On Monday, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize issued a statement refuting another claim by Holomisa. This time, Mkhize was allegedly influencing municipalities to invest in the now controversial VBS Mutual Bank.

“I have noted social media comments by General Bantu Holomisa that he has ‘evidence’ that I influenced municipalities to invest in VBS Mutual Bank, and wish to state categorically that there can be no such evidence as the allegations [are] totally untrue.”

Mkhize claims that Holomisa’s remarks are based on a purported presentation made to Mkhize in 2016, in his capacity as treasurer general of the ANC.

“The document indicates no author and no contact details to demonstrate authenticity, there is clumsy page numbering and the document shows clear signs of cut and paste wherein background features show slides that were done from different unrelated documents. It is clearly some shoddy work by mischievous individuals.”

“I am seriously concerned by this misrepresentation and use of fraudulent documents to create a wrong impression. I am aware that the stance we have taken against corruption would encourage such vitriol and attacks but we shall not be deterred from promoting clean governance.”

Appeal to Finance Minister

The UDM confirmed that it received legal papers from Lebashe.

Holomisa told News24 that this did not come as a surprise, as Lebashe had indicated that it intended to pursue its legal options in its correspondence to the UDM late last week.

Holomisa also confirmed on Monday evening that they had instructed their attorneys to defend Lebashe’s application.

“Yes, we received the papers. We have told them that we will defend.” — News 24

This article has been amended to reflect an update from UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.

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