MORE pressure has been heaped on East London businessman Mzwandile Sokwali to explain how he spent millions meant to transport mourners to four memorial services for former president Nelson Mandela in December last year.
Mantella Trading 522cc, of which East London businessman Dean Fanoe is a member, was paid R1.38-million by Victory Ticket 750 cc, a company owned by Sokwali, to print 20000 ANC T-shirts.
This was despite a memo from the treasurer’s office to the metro making it clear that the R10-million allocated for the memorial services was to be used for venue and transportation, not for printing T-shirts, catering or erecting marquee tents.
A Daily Dispatch investigation, however, revealed some of the money was used to pay for the T-shirts.
Mantella Trading attorney Andre Schoombee distanced the company from the scandal.
“Our client simply fulfilled an order requested by a client,” Schoombee told the Daily Dispatch in a written response to questions e-mailed to him.
Schoombee confirmed that Mantella received the order to print the 20000 T-shirts on December 11 from Victory Ticket.
He said the shirts were printed 589km from East London in Pietermaritzburg and delivered on December 14 to Port Elizabeth, where they were collected.
When it was pointed out that the provincial memorial service for Mandela took place on December 13, Schoombee said he had made an error and the shirts were delivered in two batches on December 12 and 13.
Schoombee also provided a document showing a proof of the T-shirt design to the Dispatch.
The shirt features an image of Mandela on the front with the wording “Buffalo City Region” below it. The shirt also has an ANC logo and the words “Hamba Kahle Madiba” printed on the back.
However, the Dispatch has scanned crowd photographs from the event and none of the shirts can be seen on mourners pictured.
Schoombee defended his client, saying an earlier Dispatch report had created an impression “that a slush fund of six million rand was doled out to people connected with either a political party or BCMM for no value”.
“Our client provided T-shirts to Victory Ticket as a business transaction and they had no knowledge of the reason therefore or that the T-shirts had to conform to certain parameters; they supplied what was requested.”
He referred the Dispatch to Victory Ticket for further queries regarding the design of the T-shirts.
However, in a series of follow-up questions sent to Schoombee on January 31, the Dispatch requested documentation pertaining to the matter including:
- A copy of the order for the T-shirts;
- A copy of the order for the printing work;
- The contact details and name of the Pietermaritzburg company that supplied and printed the shirts; and
- The courier documentation showing the shirts were delivered to Port Elizabeth.
Schoombee said yesterday he had not received a reply from his client to the Dispatch questions.
Contacted for comment on why he paid money meant for transportation to have T-shirts printed, Sokwali referred the Dispatch to his lawyer, Bongani Qangule, of Drake Flemmer and Orsmond.
However, Qangule said his client did not want to comment on the matter at this stage.
The latest revelations come as troubled BCM politicians and senior administrators were yesterday summoned to the ANC provincial office in King William’s Town to explain how the millions meant for the memorial services were spent.
BCM mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, her deputy Temba Tinta, council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele, and chief whip Sang weni Matwele led a metro delegation that included city manager Andile Fani.
The ANC’s top five leaders in the BCM region, including chairwoman Zukisa Faku, her deputy Xola Pakati and regional secretary Pumlani Mkolo, were also hauled before provincial leadership.
Mkolo refused to comment on yesterday’s meeting.
Article source: http://www.dispatch.co.za/news/row-grows-over-r1-4m-anc-shirts/