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Legalbrief   |   your legal news hub Saturday 21 May 2022

Startling claims link Zuma family to 'dark world'

Startling revelations about the Zuma family and its interaction with what is described as 'the dark world' are revealed by Jacques Pauw, one of SA’s top investigative journalists and the first to expose apartheid’s death squads in the 1980s, in his new book, The President’s Keepers. According to a Sunday Times report, among other things, Pauw reveals that Zuma failed to submit his tax returns during at least the first five years of his presidency; how for a period as President he received a secret monthly pay cheque from a friend; and that suspected tobacco smugglers paid tens of thousands of rands every month for several years to Zuma’s son Edward for his political influence. Pauw also makes claims against Zuma’s former wife and presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who it is alleged, accepted campaign contributions from a self-confessed smuggler, fraudster and money launderer.

The book reveals a self-confessed smuggler, fraudster and money launderer as a contributor to Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign. It also contains information about secret payments to other members of the Zuma family, including the President and his son Edward. It also reveals that flamboyant and controversial cigarette manufacturer Adriano Mazzotti has presented Dlamini-Zuma with an array of election paraphernalia, including election caps and shirts. The Sunday Times notes that in an affidavit Mazzotti signed in May 2014, he admits his complicity and that of his company, Carnilinx, in a host of crimes, including fraud, money laundering, corruption, tax evasion and bribery. Mazzotti and Carnilinx are also said have contributed cash to Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign. The State Security Agency (SSA) is said to have warned Dlamini-Zuma about her relationship with Mazzotti, but she rejected the advice, saying he had never been convicted of any crime. However, in the affidavit Mazzotti made in 2014 while his and Carnilinx’s tax affairs were being investigated by the SA Revenue Service, he says: ‘In its drive to promote its business, Carnilinx entered into a host of transactions, some of which were lawful and others corrupt and unlawful.’ He admits wrongdoing and tells how the company ‘unlawfully and wrongfully’ smuggled tons of tobacco to avoid paying excise duty, and set up money-laundering facilities to avoid paying taxes. Mazzotti says in his affidavit that he handed R820 000 in cash to a prominent Johannesburg attorney, to be used to bribe former SARS investigations head Johann van Loggerenberg and former acting Commissioner Ivan Pillay. The attorney, however, pocketed the money. Although SARS ‘nailed’ Mazzotti before Tom Moyane, a close Zuma confidant, was appointed SARS Commissioner, Moyane purged the tax collector of some of its top executives, among them Pillay and Van Loggerenberg, both of whom were involved in tax investigations against Jacob Zuma, Edward Zuma and a host of cronies and associates. SARS has so far failed to enforce the R600m tax bill against Mazzotti and Carnilinx. Mazzotti reportedly denied he was sponsoring Dlamini-Zuma’s election campaign. He also denied the many admissions of criminal acts he makes in his 2014 affidavit. Other members of the Zuma clan, among them Edward, received money from cigarette manufacturers that SARS investigated for money laundering, fraud and tax evasion, details of which are fleshed out in the report online.

Mazzotti has boasted of his friendship with former State Security Minister David Mahlobo, who was recently appointed Energy Minister, notes the Sunday Times report. Mazzotti, a close friend of EFF leader Julius Malema, says on a recording of the boast, that Mahlobo asked him to spy on Malema. He agreed. He also says he is ‘untouchable’ and that his contacts in high places have made his tax problems all but disappear. The State Security Agency picked up that Mazzotti was talking widely about his relationship with Mahlobo and started investigating him. It was then, notes the report, that agents discovered Mazzotti’s close relationship with Dlamini-Zuma. Mazzotti’s relationship with Malema is well-known and in his affidavit, Mazzotti says that Carnilinx made a ‘donation’ of R200 000 ‘towards a political party’. The affidavit refers to Malema and the EFF. In 2015 SARS alleged that Malema used a R1m loan from a Carnilinx director, Kyle Phillips, to pay his tax debt. Malema is quoted as saying he was not aware that Mazzotti was asked to spy on him, but said he wasn’t surprised because Mahlobo ‘has been going around asking people for information about me’.