On Tuesday 5 February 2019 the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture was hearing evidence from its own investigator Frank Dutton. He told the commission, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Dudu Myeni, the chairperson of the Jacob G Zuma Foundation, had somehow got access to a confidential anti-corruption task team docket in which management services firm Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations, was implicated in corruption.
|Jacob Zuma and Dudu Myeni|
The docket, said Dutton, had been shown to former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi by Myeni at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria, some time between 22-23 September 2015. It was confirmed that Myeni had been booked into room 616 of the hotel at that time. (Agrizzi had earlier testified that he bought her a Louis Vuitton handbag and that before it was handed to her, it had been stuffed with R300,000 in cash.)
At about the same time that Dutton was testifying, Noseweek journalist Jonathan Erasmus walked into the offices of the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, a provincial government building in Durban. Noseweek had been tipped off that, fittingly, the Jacob G Zuma Foundation shared the Sharks Board premises – and that Myeni had her office there.
The centerpiece of the entrance lobby is a chess board. When Erasmus looked at it, the White King was in check by his black opponent’s Queen supported by a juvenile Pawn. A superficial look would suggest that the white king was in trouble, but on closer inspection an experienced chess player would quickly realise that the board has been fixed – the placements were just too unnatural to occur in normal play. Someone had captured the game. It was rigged.
On the board, the words “this is life, make the right move” are inscribed. Below the board is a picture of former president Jacob Zuma.
To the left, is the entrance to the Sharks Board’s shop offering a variety of gifts for tourists to buy. To the right, behind the chess board is a door with a notice declaring it to be the entrance to the Jacob G Zuma Foundation. Erasmus knocked on the door, but there was no response. He then tried the door and found it open, so entered, to find no-one seated at the reception desk. He filmed the scene with his phone, while calling out “Is anybody at home?” Which was when a flustered Ms Myeni emerged from a side door.
After an exchange of greetings, Erasmus said he wished to have her comment on the revelations at the Zondo Commission concerning herself. “You will need to make an appointment. I am meeting with an Inkosi right now and am very busy,” she replied and then, wide-eyed, like a rabbit caught in the headlights, she escorted Erasmus to the door, took a quick glance outside and asked “Did you take any pictures?”
“Yes,” replied Erasmus.
He persisted in trying to set up a meeting with her, but to no avail.
“I’ll call you,” said Myeni. The door was slammed shut and locked.
Myeni was after all in her hiding place, in the office of the failing foundation which we are told doesn’t even pay rent. The Sharks Board was asked to confirm the zero rental but refused to clarify the matter.
Besides wanting to ask Myeni the obvious questions such as “did you take money from Agrizzi?” and “would you have preferred a Chanel handbag instead?” we were also curious as to why the Jacob G Zuma Foundation was based at the Sharks Board office. Is the Sharks Board now protecting a different kind of shark?
But on 7 February, all Noseweek’s attempts to get answers were thwarted. Instead, Erasmus received a call from a man claiming to be “Colonel Zungu” from the “presidential task team office”.
He said his “directorate is responsible for the protection of imminent persons particularly politicians in the Republic”. He refused to state his full name, reveal where he is stationed or provide his telephone number. The voice sounded like that of a young boy. You can listen to it here.
He then went on to claim that Erasmus had “attempted an invasion on the offices of the Jacob Zuma Foundation”, that he had been “found trespassing on the premises” and that this was “in the presence of the former president”. He said Erasmus had “sneaked in and had the intention to do something” and there was a claim that Erasmus was “attempting to violate or present some kind of danger” to Zuma.
“Colonel Zungu” then said Erasmus should come to “Durban Central Police Station” and that he “will soon know” who he is. Erasmus declined his offer and said he should get a “real policeman” to call.
Noseweek later learnt that no-one called “Colonel Zungu” works for the “Presidential Task team unit” which in itself doesn’t exist (The unit is called Presidential Protection Unit). Only three people knew of Erasmus’s visit to the Zuma Foundation and his meeting with Myeni: Noseweek editor Martin Welz, Erasmus and Myeni herself. Had she put someone up to impersonating a police officer?
There was no obvious presence of Zuma in the building. No guards were stationed in or around the building and no cavalcade was parked outside. If he was there he was there alone. Zuma’s spokesman Vukile Mathabela was asked to confirm whether Zuma had indeed been at the foundation that day and if a “Col Zungu” had been asked to call. He said rather opaquely: “My job is to alert the police about the call and they will call you.”
The following day a real policeman did call – Detective Scelo Ntombela from the Durban North Police Station. He informed Erasmus that Myeni had opened a criminal case against Erasmus for “criminal defamation” under case number 65/02/2019.
Durban North needs no introduction. It is the police station famously used by Zuma’s cronies to harass journalists such as author of The President’s Keepers, Jacques Pauw and News24 investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh.
Ntombela said the crime committed was taking photos of Myeni’s office “without her permission” and that he had been “instructed by a superior” to obtain Erasmus’s statement.
Myeni has for a long time been that Black Queen, always in position holding her opponent in check after her boss had “fixed” the board. But, as a closer look at the board outside that office revealed, the White King, even on the rigged board, still had an exit. The problem with cheating is you are always hiding a weakness.
Myeni has fallen far from grace. She who once only flew first-class, ruled and ruined SAA and a host of other parastatals and commanded such power throughout the land, has been reduced to a sad, scared woman hiding in a tiny office, getting young boys to threaten journalists on her behalf. Noseweek’s attorney has informed the appropriate authorities of the incident.
Listen to Colonel Zungu's call here.
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