The Rolls crowd sure get around
SA Council of Shopping Centres president Sisa Ngebulana has made some interesting friends in his rise as one of the country's top black property developers.
The developer, with an estimated R8.5-billion property portfolio, attended this year's annual African Congress of Shopping Centres in Cape Town accompanied by President Jacob Zuma's former financial backer, millionaire Vivian Reddy.
Although it's not clear whether the two jetted into the coastal city together last week, they arrived at the congress opening and gala dinners in the same chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom, worth about R7-million. At one stage, Ngebulana and Reddy sat inside the Rolls for more than 30 minutes outside the five-star Westin Grand hotel before it drove off and parked outside the popular restaurant, Col'Cacchio Pizzeria, where Nedbank was hosting the opening dinner party.
The luxury vehicle, which has become the symbol of ultra wealth for the new elite, is owned by Ragavan (Ragi) Moonsamy, a director and shareholder in more than 30 companies - and a business partner of the politically connected Gupta family.
The Gupta family, consisting of Atul Gupta, managing director of Sahara Computers, along with his brothers, Anil and Rajesh, has been relatively close to Zuma since 2002. But the relationship has blossomed since Zuma became president in 2007, amid concern in political and business circles about the relationship.
Zuma's children are in business with the brothers, who were born in Saharanpur in northern India.
Last week the Sunday Times reported that the brothers, via several companies, owned more than seven homes in Saxonwold, one of Johannesburg's most exclusive northern suburbs - and Zuma's son, Duduzane, has listed one of the properties as his official residence.
Moonsamy, a director of both property investment company Growthpoint Properties and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, is also a shareholder in Afripalm Resources, along with Atul Gupta.
Afripalm Resources controls empowerment mining company Mvelaphanda Resources, founded by Tokyo Sexwale, who now serves in Zuma's cabinet as minister of human settlements.
Moonsamy, who is based in Cape Town and has been involved in empowerment projects worth more than R5-billion, is also a co-shareholder in several other companies with Lazarus Zim, a director and shareholder of Sahara Computers.
His other company is Unipalm Investment Holdings, an empowerment investment vehicle which includes former SABC executive Thandi Ramathesele and celebrity entrepreneur Basetsana Kumalo on its board.
At the congress, some of the 1200 delegates questioned the relationship between Ngebulana and Reddy, founder and chairman of Edison Corporation.
Reddy, who earlier this month splashed out R1-million for a T-shirt worn by Zuma during the ANC's election campaign, has a range of business interests, which have won some of KwaZulu-Natal's most lucrative government contracts.
So what is the relationship between Reddy and Ngebulana, whose company, Billion Group, owns East London's R500-million Mdantsane City Mall, the R1.6-billion Hemingways Mall and a R1.5-billion luxury golf estate in the Eastern Cape?
Ngebulana also has interests in more than 45 registered companies, ranging from construction to finance.