Allegations sensationalist: EAAB chief
Cape Town - Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) chairperson Thami Bolani has denied "sensationalist allegations" that he failed to declare his interests in an industry newspaper.
The Sunday Times reported that the Hawks were investigating how NCF Consulting Enterprises, where Bolani is chairperson, allegedly pocketed R200 000 from the EAAB.
"To claim that the company 'pocketed' monies is spurious as any publication requires advertising to continue operating," Bolani said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
"All profits of the magazine go to the NCF, to enable it to be a sustainable body and continue its valuable work in protecting consumers."
According to the Sunday Times, NCF Consulting Enterprises, a company in which Thami Bolani is a director, was paid the money for services as well as adverts placed by the EAAB in the bi-monthly newspaper of the National Consumer Forum, of which he is also chairperson.
"Questions are now also being raised as to whether he declared his business interests to the EAAB," the Sunday Times wrote.
Bolani said the role of NCF Consulting Enterprises was affiliated to Consumers International, an association that had given South African consumer issues "prominence" internationally as well as enabled skills development of NCF staff.
"As Consumers International do not wish affiliates to receive funding from the private sector and the NCF obviously required ongoing monetary support for the running and publication of Consumer Fair, as well as to expand its services into additional provinces, NCF Consulting Enterprises was established," Bolani said.
NCF Consulting Enterprises was a social enterprise development that the NCF depended on for its survival as it had no other source of funding.
The Sunday Consumer Fair, the newspaper published by NCF Consulting Enterprises had since 2009 - prior to Bolani's involvement in the EAAB - published EAAB advertorials promoting consumer rights and educating consumers about the property sector.
Consumer Fair aims to educate consumers, "particularly the weak and vulnerable". Some 80 000 copies of the newspapers are distributed each week.
"Both the EAAB and the department of trade and industry (DTI), which appointed me to the board of the EAAB as a representative of consumer interests, had full copies of my CV, which clearly states my continuing involvement with the NCF and the Consumer Fair," Bolani said.
"It's odd that a complaint was apparently made in June of 2011, but the first I learnt of the matter was on Saturday 6th August 2011."
Bolani said he immediately tried to ascertain the facts about the alleged complaint, "finally managing to track it down to a specific police station".
He then sent a press statement to the Sunday Times in time for the newspaper's evening deadline on Saturday August 6.
"In this statement, I clearly iterated (sic) that I had disclosed my interest in Consumer Fair, that my interest in Consumer Fair is a well-known fact, and that my attorneys, after having great difficult in establishing that a complaint had been lodged at a police station in June 2011, had immediately made contact with the Hawks to arrange for a consultation and to give the Hawks my full cooperation.
"This liaison is continuing with a meeting arranged for later in the week, to clarify matters and to provide the Hawks with all documentation required.
"I believe I will be fully exonerated."
DTI spokesperson Sidwell Medupe confirmed that advertorials, placed in Consumer Fair by the EAAB, commenced prior to Bolani's involvement with the organisation.
"The EAAB resolved in 2009 to advertise in Consumer Fair and this was before the chairperson became a board member," Medupe said.
"When he was appointed to the EAAB, it was already in the public domain that he is from the NCF and that Consumer Fair was one of their own initiatives."