21 July 2024 | 05:18 AM

Was advocate tainted by Krejcir graft?

Key Takeaways

Influential businessperson and advocate Brenda Madumise was the channel for what appears to be a corrupt payment by Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir in 2009 – and her explanations have raised more questions than answers.

In an affidavit dated April 16 2011, Madumise admits she received R1-million in cash from Krejcir who, in exchange, allegedly expected to have his asylum application fast-tracked.

Responding this week to questions from amaBhungane, Madumise insisted the funds were intended to be a donation, saying: “The funds in question were not meant for me.”

She said this week: “If information had been made available to me that the funds were meant to be part of any corrupt or opaque deal, I would have rejected the funds. I only acted in terms of the information that the money was a donation.”

She did not disclose to whom the donation was to be made, but another affidavit in the file discloses that Krejcir initially tried to make a donation to the ANC through secretary general Gwede Mantashe, but was rebuffed.

The affidavits, five in total, appear to have formed part of the investigation of Krejcir associate George Smith – currently facing charges for the murder of strip club king Lolly Jackson.

Madumise, a former Business Unity South Africa chairperson, has had a variety of interests, ranging from mining to gambling and government. She was until recently the interim chair of national oil company PetroSA, of which she remains a board member.

Madumise said this week her role had not been to assist with Krejcir’s asylum but to manage the process of the “donation”.

“Certain people” being protected

Yet her own affidavit – and those of others connected to the events – appears to link the payment to Krejcir’s attempts to obtain asylum in South Africa. It seems that when there was no progress with the asylum application Smith demanded the return of the money.

Smith appeared to have been backed up by another Krejcir associate, General Joey Mabasa, who was Gauteng’s crime intelligence boss at the time. He allegedly instructed three members of crime intelligence to help to resolve the debt at the end of November 2009.

In her 2011 affidavit, Madumise denies that she used the money for the “asylum seeker [Krejcir] … I used it for my personal gain”.

But last week she had a different story: asked about the use of the money for “personal gain”, she reportedly told the Sunday Times: “That’s wrong; I was trying to protect certain people.”

The admission, if correct, suggests she lied to protect someone else – an inference that gels with the affidavit of another witness to the events, Eric Xayiya, a senior ANC member who is now a special adviser to Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

Xayiya, who introduced Smith to Madumise, said in his statement that a “very wild” Smith pitched up at Madumise’s house accompanied by the crime intelligence officers.

“They told us that they are sent by their chief [Mabasa] to resolve the matter amicably because it might affect senior leaders.”

Curious timing

By admitting to lying in the affidavit, Madumise, a nonpractising advocate, may have perjured herself. Although the version amaBhungane has seen is unsigned, she did not dispute its authenticity.

She told amaBhungane: “I am still dealing with the matter of the issues raised in the Sunday Times article – I am not in a position to respond to this at the moment.”

Madumise’s embarrassing and incriminating statement appears to have been leaked last week – possibly in retaliation for her role in raising questions about the appointment of new directors to the PetroSA board who had been hand-picked by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

In mid-November, the state-owned Central Energy Fund (CEF) announced the appointment of new directors to the board of its wholly owned subsidiary, PetroSA. They included controversial businessperson Tshepo Kgadima as chair.

In the wake of controversy over the appointment of Kgadima, accused of presiding over the collapse of a start-up coal venture, letters – including one from Madumise – were leaked to Business Day showing that the appointments had been specifically requested by Joemat-Pettersson, contrary to her claims that the selection had been made by the CEF board alone.

Although the disclosure of Madumise’s alleged fraternisation with Krejcir’s case appears to have come to light as a result of current power struggles, it throws a fascinating light on Krejcir’s attempts at buying influence – and how he attempted to place politicians and policemen at his beck and call.

Xayiya’s affidavit explains how Krejcir originally wanted to make a donation to the ANC – and an approach to Mantashe had been mediated by another crime intelligence officer, identified as Oscar Nkabinde.

AmaBhungane has not been able to trace Nkabinde.

ANC rejects Krejcir “contribution” offer

Xayiya states: “Early 2009 when the ANC was preparing for elections … I was asked by the secretary to interact with Oscar Nkabinde, who wanted to talk with the secretary general.”

Xayiya says he met with Nkabinde and Smith, who “indicated to me that Radovan wanted to contribute to the ANC campaign”. Mantashe confirmed last week that he had rejected the offer out of hand.

Xayiya states: “I met Oscar and George for the second time and gave them the ANC secretary general’s rejection report. At this stage, Oscar and George indicated they needed someone who can help with fast-tracking the asylum process … and they wanted me to identify [black economic empowerment] people Radovan can partner with.

“I indicated that I will talk to Brenda Madumise, who is both a lawyer and a businessperson of note … I was also given a file of the asylum case to give to her.”

Madumise confirms in her statement that during early 2009 she was contacted by Xayiya, who arranged to meet her with Nkabinde. She held a follow-up meeting that included Smith.

“After our meeting, Smith handed me files containing Radovan Krejcir’s application … I decided to call former deputy minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba, asking him about how the asylum seeker procedure works, and his comment was that there is a board responsible for asylum seekers and he has heard before of this matter and there is an appeal process going on.”

Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, told amaBhungane the minister “never had a conversation with her [Madumise] specific to Krejcir’s application”.

A million in cash

Madumise says she then received a call from Xayiya saying he was in the area and “wanted to bring the money”. “They came in my house; it was George Smith, Oscar Nkabinde and Eric Xayiya … Smith was carrying a paper bag with an FNB stamp on it and it was one million.”

Madumise admits that she understood that she was expected to pay Nkabinde and Xayiya “for bringing introduction of a client to me” – but does not disclose whether she did so.

Madumise says thereafter there was pressure from Smith, telling her that Krejcir was complaining about things “not moving” and that she was to give the money back to Smith.

She says she repaid it, but there was a balance of R300000, “which caused a problem”.

One of the three crime intelligence officers explains in a further affidavit that they had been tasked by a superior – allegedly on Mabasa’s behalf – to “assist an individual to ensure an informant reward is paid out to him”.

He describes how they were then put in contact with Smith, who said it was money owed to him by Madumise. The officers allege they were not happy, but went along because they believed Smith might be “useful”.

The officer describes how, when they arrived at Madumise’s house, her partner initially appeared to attempt to conduct a scouting exercise by climbing on the roof. “I then searched the house … and found a black lady [Madumise] hiding in the closet in the main room.”

The affidavits indicate that an agreement was brokered through Madumise’s lawyer to repay the remaining R300000.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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