What the butler saw turns out to be lies
ANC veteran Mathews Phosa's former butler, Jan Venter, is a liar who has tried to get the media to pay him for his falsehoods. He invited Sunday Times reporters to meet him in Nelspruit in August last year, when he made defamatory claims against Phosa and tried to sell the politician's family secrets.Venter's claims were not published because he could not substantiate them and they could not be independently verified.Venter, who had left his butler's job with Phosa under a cloud three months earlier, initially asked for money in return for his information and pictures of Phosa's luxury house and cars, but when his request was rejected he offered them for free.His claims appeared in other media outlets in March this year.Venter's original claims to the Sunday Times last year were very different to what he said this week in a statement issued after he reconciled with Phosa.story_article_left1In August last year, with his wife at his side, Venter claimed that:• He drove Phosa to a late-night meeting with EFF leader Julius Malema at Kruger Mpumalanga Airport, where Phosa, a former ANC treasurer, gave Malema's new party a cheque for R100000;• He saw Phosa drafting a document that accused Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza, his political rival, of being a former apartheid agent, code-named PN485, between 1985 and 1993;•Phosa instructed his head of security, Pieter van Zyl, to kill him because of the incriminating evidence he had;• He was shot at, but not hit, by unknown occupants of a Ford Ranger in Hazyview immediately after falling out with Phosa;• Phosa laid false charges of theft against him to get him jailed and silenced;• Phosa benefited from questionable state contracts and made some of his wealth by doubling as a fixer for international investors;• Van Zyl's company owed millions in outstanding taxes;• Phosa hired thugs to intimidate an Indian student who dated his daughter because he did not approve of the relationship for racial reasons;• Phosa bought his daughter a Range Rover for cash as a 21st-birthday gift;• The politician fired him for taking time off to nurse his sick father, who later died; and• Phosa treated him like a slave by making him work seven days a week without time off.This week, however, Venter changed his tune and claimed that:• Mabuza had ordered him to state under oath that he had overheard Phosa and someone called NElliot confessing to having orchestrated the apartheid agent allegations;• He had asked Mabuza for a job after Phosa fired him, but heard nothing from him until the spy allegations were reported in the media, which prompted the premier to summon him to a meeting at his house;• Mabuza also ordered him to say he had overheard Phosa saying he had bankrolled the EFF and his "friend" Malema;• Mabuza paid him, through a lawyer, to tarnish Phosa's image;• He regretted having been "pulled into a politically motivated act" against Phosa;story_article_right2• He had contacted President Jacob Zuma's office and the State Security Agency because he feared for his life; and• He was emotional when he made his previous claims because he was facing theft charges and had just lost his father.Venter, who claimed he was a victim of Mpumalanga politics, said he had fallen out with Phosa, his "other father", last year over "stupid arguments"."I would like to apologise publicly for all the misunderstandings. He [Phosa] is, was and always will be the most honest, upstanding person and surely he should teach political thugs how to behave and be a true gentleman," his statement said.Venter could not be reached for comment this week. His phone rang unanswered and he failed to return SMSes.Phosa on Friday dismissed Venter as a self-confessed liar."He said, at a press conference this week, that he lied. I can't interpret him. He said it himself," Phosa said."It's simple. He was abused, in daylight, by ruthless politicians and intelligence officers, for their own dubious games."Mabuza's spokesman, Zibonele Mncwango, could not be reached for comment.Zuma's spokesman, Bongani Majola, said Venter should deal with his issues and leave the president out of firstname.lastname@example.org..