Brian Shivambu rocks up with R3m after pleading poverty

The EFF leader’s brother has had an astonishing reversal of fortunes. Early this year he could afford no more than R5 000 per month to pay his enormous VBS debt. Last month he suddenly had R1-million and this week he had another R2-million to throw at the problem. Where he got it, no one knows.

Early this year Brian Shivambu, brother of EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, begged the liquidator of VBS Mutual Bank to give him incredible leeway in repaying his R 4.4-million indebtedness to the bank.

Through his company Sgameka Projects he owed R1 580 154 on a mortgage from 2016 and R2 785 781 on a 2017 loan facility from the doomed bank. This was in January when liquidator Anoosh Rooplal came knocking for repayment.

These loans are separate from another R16 million that flowed through other VBS accounts belonging to Sgameka.

The mortgage was to buy a house for the Shivambu brothers’ parents, while the loan was ostensibly to fund a wine bar.

Through his lawyers, Shivambu asked Rooplal if he could repay the loan debt at R5 000 per month— significantly less than the interest accruing on the balances or the terms of the mortgage which called for repayment of R190 637 per month.

  • Access the court documents via our Evidence docket.

“Our client can only afford this amount in the interim,” Shivambu’s lawyers wrote on 27 February in a letter contained in liquidation court papers.

Brian Shivambu

Even then someone had Brian’s back. That same month as the plea to reduce the repayments on the loan account to practically nothing was made, someone identified in court documents as Musa Shivambu paid R180 000 into the mortgage account which, according to Brian Shivambu’s lawyers, brought him up to date with his repayments.

Although Brian’s lawyers give Musa’s surname as Shivambu, his surname is Shibambu according to company records. AmaBhungane has previously reported on his being an apparent cousin of the Shivambus.

When contacted by amaBhungane, Shibambu said he could not say what his relationship to Brian was as he (Shibambu) was “travelling outside the country”. He did confirm that it was he who had helped Brian out.

Meanwhile, Rooplal was having none of the R5 000 per month repayment terms requested by Shivambu on the loan account. He proceeded with a liquidation application against Sgameka. On 5 August the Johannesburg high court dealt Shivambu a further blow — it ruled he would be personally liable for the loan debt.

This is when Shivambu’s fortunes radically improved. On the same day as the court order, his lawyers paid R1-million into the loan account. AmaBhungane asked both Shivambu and his attorney where this money suddenly came from, but neither responded.

Fast forward to 9 September. The liquidation application was set down for later in the week when suddenly unknown parties again came to Shivambu’s rescue. The full balance of the mortgage, R1 657 589 at that point, was paid off overnight.

On 11 September, the night before the hearing was set to proceed, unknown parties paid another R340 000 into the loan account, leaving a debt of R1.3-million. This is what remains of debt Shivambu is personally liable for.

In court yesterday, 13 September, Shivambu’s advocate, Tshidiso Ramogale, claimed that all these payments “clearly” showed Sgameka was solvent and should not be liquidated. He said he “would be shocked by a suggestion that the funds came from some other source”.

The court papers provide no clarity on this point – they show the payments coming via an attorney’s trust account, suggesting the possibility a third party may indeed have stepped in.

Up to the sudden windfalls, Shivambu’s arguments have shifted radically.

When he was begging for the R5 000 per month repayment deal, his lawyers incongruously claimed that he only fell behind on repayments “because they did not know which account to utilise for such payments” after VBS went into curatorship and then got liquidated.

“It is our firm instructions that our client was at all material times prepared to pay both the debts,” they wrote to Rooplal’s lawyers.

Shivambu’s other argument was that he is not really even obliged to repay the loan (as opposed to the mortgage) because it was extended with the understanding that he would fund a business venture and repay his debt out of profits. This was apparently a verbal agreement with someone at VBS who has not been identified in court proceedings.

“This proposal of payment [of R5 000 per month] is made in consideration of the fact that the objective of the loan is yet to be accomplished,” wrote his lawyers.

Judgement in the liquidation matter was reserved.