We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Exposed: Supra Mahumapelo's R1.5m 'gift' to Jacob Zuma

Cattle intended for North West's poor farmers end up in Nkandla kraal

22 April 2018 - 00:05 By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA

A herd of cattle costing R1.5-million and meant for emerging farmers was instead delivered to Nkandla - as a gift to Jacob Zuma from his political ally, North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
The generous gift, paid for with public funds, is now under investigation by the Hawks and could lead to charges of fraud and corruption against Mahumapelo and the former president, who is already facing 16 charges, including fraud, racketeering and money laundering, stemming from the multibillion-rand arms deal.
Mahumapelo is also under heavy pressure to step down as premier, with North West residents rioting this week over his links to several other corruption scandals.
The Sunday Times has learnt that Zuma personally signed for the 25 Bonsmara cattle when they were delivered to Nkandla on October 2016.
Invoices show that 50 cows were paid for, but it is unclear where the other 25 went.
On the day he took delivery of the cattle, a delighted Zuma even took pictures with some of the drivers who delivered the cattle to his homestead in Nkandla.
The cattle order and payment were made via a private company contracted to the North West rural, environment and agricultural department to assist emerging farmers. The scandal bears similarities to the Vrede dairy farm project in the Free State, which was set up using taxpayers' money and meant to alleviate poverty but was instead allegedly used by the provincial agricultural department to pay millions of rands to the Guptas through a beneficiary company, Estina.
Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed yesterday that the investigation unit was pursuing a case of fraud and corruption on the matter. "We can confirm that the [Hawks are] seriously assessing the matter. However, we are not in a position to comment at this stage," he said.Mahumapelo is one of Zuma's staunchest backers. Last year he used R1.8-million of taxpayers' money to build a Zuma monument in Groot Marico, where Zuma was arrested by apartheid police in 1963.
He was also part of the lobby group of premiers known as the premier league that campaigned tirelessly for former AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to become president of the ANC.
His political career hangs in the balance after North West communities took to the streets following revelations about his relationship with the Guptas, and reports that his son received a R1.1-million bursary from Denel.
Yesterday Mahumapelo's spokesman, Brian Setswambung, denied any knowledge of the cattle for Nkandla, saying the premier "does not get involved in issues of suppliers and departments".
Zuma did not respond to questions sent to him by the Sunday Times through his spokesman, Vukile Mathabela.
Documents seen by the Sunday Times reveal that in November 2014, the North West department of agriculture awarded AgriDelight Training and Consulting a R650-million contract as its implementing agent for rural, environment and agricultural development programmes for three years. The company was to earn 10% of the project value.
AgriDelight's website claims the company helps to improve farming efficiency by implementing feasibility studies, computerised planning and strategies. It also runs public-private partnerships through "strategic partnerships, mentorship, value chain developments and models" and integrates grant funding with money from other sources.Highly placed sources at AgriDelight told the Sunday Times that Mahumapelo instructed the company to deliver the top-breed cattle to Nkandla in October 2016.
The delivery was confirmed by Lucas Msiza, the breeder of the cattle. On Friday, Msiza told the Sunday Times that he was contracted by AgriDelight to deliver "his best cattle to Zuma".
He said: "I got an order for 25 Bonsmara cattle from my client, AgriDelight, and I was given a delivery address which happened to be Nkandla, the former president's private residence, where I must deliver them."
He said Zuma was at home when he delivered the cattle. "The former president was very friendly to us and signed off the receipt [despite] the fact that he seemed to be having serious meetings."
Msiza said he had delivered 24 cows and one bull. "AgriDelight paid me R500,000 for the cattle and transportation."
However, documents seen by the Sunday Times reveal that AgriDelight later invoiced the North West government for R1.5-million and claimed it delivered 50 top-breed cattle to Zuma.
It is not clear where the other 25 cows went, how the remaining R1-million was used, or if the cattle delivered to Zuma stayed at Nkandla. The document states that "R1.5m cattle bought for JZ and delivered to Nkandla at Supra's instruction".
AgriDelight's lawyer, Thato Lepinka, declined to comment on a list of questions sent to him for his client. "Please note that I don't have instructions from my client to speak to you regarding his company."
The Sunday Times understands that the man who blew the whistle on the deal - whose name is known to the newspaper - has received death threats.A law enforcement source said he was due to be placed under witness protection as soon as the paperwork was finalised.
"He has been told that his days are numbered. One of the people implicated warned him that he must pray that they don't meet on the street because there would be blood on the floor."
Mulaudzi confirmed to the Sunday Times that the whistleblower's life had been threatened. "For the sake of the safety of the individual, you are sincerely requested not to make his name public since there is a real risk to his life at this point in time."
Setswambung told Sunday Times yesterday: "The premier denies that he ever made such instruction to AgriDelight. The premier does not get involved in issues of suppliers and departments. AgriDelight was contracted as an implementing agency for the [provincial] rural, environment and agricultural department so the department is well placed to answer your questions."
Department spokeswoman Emelda Setlhako confirmed it had a contract with AgriDelight as an implementing agency. "However, the department is not aware of the transaction or any investigation," she said.
Zuma appeared in the High Court in Durban two weeks ago on 16 charges including fraud, racketeering and money laundering, stemming from the arms deal almost a decade ago. His lawyers asked Judge Themba Sishi to adjourn the case until June 8 so both sides could prepare submissions. He was released on a warning.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.