'Don’t tell me I've been scammed': Tokyo Sexwale says top government figures ignored him

22 April 2021 - 19:51 By amanda khoza
Tokyo Sexwale during a media briefing on Thursday April 22 2021.
Tokyo Sexwale during a media briefing on Thursday April 22 2021.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

Businessman Tokyo Sexwale has made startling claims about how he was stonewalled by top figures in government when he alerted them about alleged money laundering activities involving banks.

At a marathon press conference on Thursday, the ANC veteran and former cabinet minister singled out President Cyril Ramaphosa, finance minister Tito Mboweni, Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago and ANC moneyman Paul Mashatile as being among those who had ignored him for more than two years over his efforts to alert them that money he had helped raise was being siphoned from the Reserve Bank.

Sexwale claimed that funds from a “heritage fund”, which had been meant to fund free higher education and finance Covid-19 mitigation measures, had been looted from the Reserve Bank.

He first made the shocking allegations in an eNCA broadcast on Sunday.

At the more than two hour press conference, Sexwale alleged that former president Jacob Zuma knew about the fund in 2016 and “that's why comrade Zuma spoke about free education, not government money.”

He said the fund was also designed to help finance the social relief programme, ailing state-owned enterprises and the bullet trains that Ramaphosa announced in his June 2019 state of the nation address.

But critics, including Mboweni and the Reserve Bank, have dismissed the “heritage fund” as nothing but a scam in which Sexwale had been duped.

However, the former cabinet minister has stuck to his guns, saying allegations of him being scammed were being made by those determined to hide the truth about the looting of the fund.

“The heritage fund is not SA's money, it is a heritage fund, whose owner is from Asia and the fund, which I am responsible for together with Godwin Webb, is responsible for development and philanthropy throughout the African continent and Indian Ocean island states. That is where I take my mandate.”

Webb, who is a South African citizen, pulled out of the briefing at the 11th hour due to an urgent family crisis.

In December 2018, Sexwale said, he was approached to become a joint mandate holder of the heritage fund, called White Spiritual Boy.

“And I found that these are not the type of names I am used to, I am used to big names, Anglo American, Microsoft, Mvelaphanda. I was asked to be a fellow mandate holder.

“I examined the subject for a whole month and I accepted.”

He lashed out at Mboweni, saying “failure to report a crime is a crime”.

“If I knew about the scamming of a person you bring it to the attention of the police, you don’t just Tweet, especially if you are a senior and serious person, why did you not report it to the police?”

Sexwale claims to have made Mboweni aware that the existence of the WSB fund had been brought to the attention of various law-enforcement authorities in SA. He said his correspondence with Mboweni on the matter had been shared with Ramaphosa and Kganyago.

Sexwale said he had once received a phone call from Mboweni asking him about the letter and he had told him that the fund appeared to be a scam.

He also paid Kganyago a visit and provided him with documents “which pointed out malfeasance, shenanigans and criminality that were happening inside the bank”.

The documents, he claimed, had names of individuals and information about how money had been moved from one account into commercial banks.

Sexwale said after some time it became clear that he was not going to meet Ramaphosa when he sent him a WhatsApp and he did not respond.

He wrote Mboweni a second letter informing him that if he knew of any wrongdoing on the part of WSB he needed to bring it to his attention.

“Don’t tell me I have been scammed, man, don’t do this man,” he said, adding that Ramaphosa, Mboweni and Kganyago had at their disposal tremendous technologies to check his information.

He added when he repeatedly reached out to his “comrades,” his concerns fell on deaf ears.

Sexwale said he repeatedly informed the president that the account held in the Reserve Bank had been accessed illegally.

He said the money had been transferred to accounts known to his shareholders but he did not want to divulge those account holders.