The Sunday Times reported today on its investigation into R18 million that was paid to “politically connected businessman” Mabheleni Ntuli for services he rendered for former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial services in Mpumalanga in 2013.
In looking at the businessman’s accounts it found that some of that money eventually found its way into the bank account of Nompumelelo “MaNtuli” Zuma, the flamboyant First Lady who has been removed from Nkandla, allegedly because of a plot to poison her husband, President Jacob Zuma.
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The Hawks confirmed to the paper that they were investigating a case of fraud and corruption around the tenders the Mpumalanga government awarded for the memorial services. The case relates to what is understood to be a complaint from National Treasury that businesswoman Carol Bouwer was paid R39 million for organising Madiba memorials in December 2013, but without proper processes being followed. She in turn paid R18 million to Ntuli, who says that he merely shares a name with MaNtuli Zuma and that they are not related. However, they are understood to be very close friends.
It was reported earlier this year that MaNtuli had been evicted from Nkandla and that she is living on her own without further contact with the president.
Asked by the paper what she spent the R55 000 “gift” from Ntuli on, MaNtuli’s lawyer said she could no longer remember. He added that it was not the only payment she’d received from her Durban-based friend, who has also reportedly been a generous contributor to President Zuma’s trusts. The lawyer said that in “her culture they regard each other as family”.
When asked for comment on his spending of millions at car dealerships after receiving payment from Bouwer, businessman Ntuli defended himself by saying that he had delivered a service and it was his right to spend his money on whatever he wanted. Bouwer, for her part, said that Ntuli had delivered on what he was meant to. However, an expert source who spoke to the Sunday Times said that there was enough evidence to suggest that Ntuli’s infrastructure costs were inflated.