Alex Japho Matlala
2 minute read
13 Dec 2018
6:45 am

Venda king clings to crown amid involvement in VBS looting

Alex Japho Matlala

Ramabulana’s troubles started after the Reserve Bank report stated he had received a 'gratuitous payment' of more than R17 million from VBS.

King Thovhele Toni Mphephu Ramabulana in September 2012 in Venda, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Elijar Mushiana

After the wave of dismissals of ANC municipal mayors this week, Limpopo politicians are gunning for Vhavenda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, who is also accused of looting millions from VBS Mutual Bank.

Ramabulana was among the 53 shareholders, businesspeople, politicians and traditional leaders who were cited in the Great Bank Heist report for having wrongly benefitted from the collapsing bank.

“We had expected [Limpopo Premier Stanley] Mathabatha to also describe the province’s plan to topple Ramabulana from his position when he announced yesterday the firing of the mayors,” DA Limpopo provincial leader Jacques Smalle said yesterday.

“In our book no one is above the law. We want Ramabulana to step down as king of the Vhavenda. We also want him to face criminal charges because he stole from the poor.

“The poor people of Venda, who are his subjects, trusted the bank to improve their lives for the better through these investments. But now instead of protecting his people, he chose to steal from them.”

SA Communist Party provincial spokesperson Machike Thobejane said Ramabulana was also an accessory to the crime for accepting “blood money” from VBS shareholders.

“Accepting money from VBS shareholders is proof he made a deal with the devil. He can longer be trusted by his people and he must therefore step down and let those who have the interests of the people at heart lead.”

The South African Municipal Workers Union’s Patrick Aphane said the king had already admitted to receiving the money from the bank. “All we expected him to do was to pay back the money as he promised and desist from dodgy dealings. Asking him to step down is tantamount to robbing him of his birthright.”

Ramabulana’s troubles started after the Reserve Bank report stated he had received a “gratuitous payment” of more than R17 million from VBS.

The king said two months ago he would pay back the money as soon as he was told where to make the repayment and the terms of such a repayment.

He has said that someone in his position would never knowingly accept the proceeds of wrongdoing. There is no indication that he has repaid the money.

His spokesperson Makonde Mathivha said Ramabulana had requested a meeting with the curator.

“This was to ask the curator to explain what must be returned to the bank, how and when. But that meeting has not taken place.

“The king has not been asked to appear in court because he did not steal from anyone. Once he learnt that what he was given was tainted, he offered to return it, which proves his hands are clean,” Makonde said.

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