Picture: Delwyn Verasamy, M&G
ANC Youth League boss Collen Maine’s bond on his golf estate home requires him to pay a whopping R140 000 a month. And while he refuses to say how he affords it, the evidence suggests the Guptas have lent a helping hand.
Maine and his wife, Kelebogile, bought the R5.4 million property east of Pretoria last October, six weeks after he was elected league president.
Maine has publicly defended the influential family a number of times – earning him the epithet “that Gupta- controlled Oros [man]” from Economic Freedom Fighters deputy leader Floyd Shivambu on Twitter.
But he insisted this week he was independent of the Guptas. “I was dealing with those issues as a matter of principle, not that I have anything to do with them,” he said.
Maine’s double-storey, triple-garage home is set on a large, manicured erf in the Woodhill Residential Estate and Country Club. It backs on to the greens of an 18-hole championship golf course.
The homeowners’ association board has included luminaries such as Gautrain boss Jack van der Merwe and Deloitte chief financial officer Chris Beukman.
A person with direct knowledge of the sale, speaking on condition of anonymity, told amaBhungane this week that Maine had originally submitted a cash offer, meaning the purchase was not dependent on him raising a bond.
A cash buyer usually has a limited period to come up with the money or a banl guarantee, well before the transfer is registered. In this instance, the source said, Pretoria lawyer Abdul Jaffer remitted the full R5.4 million, saying it came from the Bank of India.
Jaffer has often acted for the Gupta family. Company registration records show he was the original director of a number of their companies, indicating that he helped to register them.
A second source, who says he was briefed on aspects of the transaction when it took place, told amaBhungane that the Gupta family arranged with the Bank of India to grant Maine a bond because he was a “man of straw” financially and did not qualify.
The Guptas asked Jaffer to help, he said, and the bond registration was done by a conveyancer known to Jaffer, Shamsoodeen Omar. Deeds office records confirm a Bank of India bond covering the full R5.4 million purchase price was registered to Collen and Kelebogile Maine in mid-December, with Omar as conveyancer.
Omar, who according to deeds records has done previous bond registrations for properties related to the Guptas, referred queries to Jaffer. Jaffer did not deny his firm’s involvement in the sale this week, but would not discuss details, citing client confidentiality.
The bond document, obtained by amaBhungane, raises questions about how Maine can afford his new house, because:
- Rather than the standard 20 years, the repayment term is four years. This more than doubles the monthly instalments – an unusual choice for anyone who may be stretched financially;
- The bond document says the initial monthly instalment is R135 665. At the interest rate of prime plus 1.5% specified by the document, this will now be about R142 000 a month;
- Using the affordability measure that home loan repayments may not exceed 30% of gross income, Collen and Kelebogile Maine should have jointly earned at least R450 000 a month before tax to have qualified for the loan – unless a third party bound themselves as security; and
- R450 000 is roughly double President Jacob Zuma’s monthly paycheck.
In his former job as North West local government and human settlements MEC, Maine grossed a maximum of about R152 000 a month. His current ANC salary is likely to be considerably less.
Kelebogile Maine’s current occupation could not be established before going to press. She previously worked for the National Youth Development Agency, where a former colleague said she left “late last year”. She did not take calls or reply to text requests for comment.
This week, Collen Maine seemed to deny the four-year-term of the bond, but would say no more.
“I don’t know who is discussing those things with you. I have gone to the bank. I have got an agreement with the bank on how I pay the house for 20 years, so I would not then discuss my private issues in public any more. That’s my response,” he said.
In February, Maine was quoted as saying at a rally that “an attack on the Guptas is an attack on the ANC”.
After Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas’ bombshell revelation in March that the Guptas offered him the finance minister’s job, Maine joined the countercharge, calling on Jonas to resign for ignoring ANC protocol.
And last month, Maine visited Gupta companies after being invited to discuss the major banks’ closure of their company accounts. He was reportedly chased away by disaffected staff.
Vinayakumar Singh, a director of Bank of India’s South African branch, would not discuss details this week, citing client confidentiality.
But he said that, in South Africa, they operated mainly as a merchant bank and had granted only “two or three” home loans. He did not deny the bank had a relationship with the Guptas, saying it was “not the only” bank in South Africa in that position.
The Gupta family did not reply to detailed questions emailed to family and company spokespeople.
The Guptas have previously been involved in property purchases involving connected people, including:
- In 2012, amaBhungane and the Mail & Guardian revealed a Gupta hand behind First Lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma’s R3.84 million bond from India’s Bank of Baroda. A Gupta family spokesperson denied it at the time, but last month City Press revealed board minutes of a Gupta company agreeing to guarantee the loan. Like Maine’s, Ngema-Zuma’s loan was accelerated – in her case to five years – and was handled by Omar’s conveyancing firm.
- In 2006, a Gupta company bought then Cabinet minister Essop Pahad’s Birdhaven, Johannesburg home from him for R5 million, although neighbours said he continued to live there. Again, Omar was the conveyancer. Pahad would not comment.
- In 2014, the Mail & Guardian and amaBhungane revealed that Siyabonga Mahlangu, then outgoing adviser to Minister Malusi Gigaba, agreed to buy the same home from the Guptas. He paid R5 million in 2015 according to deed records.
- Mabengela Investments, a company co-owned by the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma, bought a R4 million Saxonwold property, using a Bank of Baroda bond, in March 2009. This was not long before Jacob Zuma was inaugurated as president. Duduzane lived there.
The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter and help us do more. Know more? Send us a tip-off.