Johannesburg - ANC bigwigs Zola Skweyiya and Aaron
Motsoaledi, and top businesswoman Wendy Luhabe are among several people who
invested millions of rands in a scheme based on what appears to have been gross
The names of these high-profile people were allegedly used
to lure more people to pump money into Lontoh Coal with a promise of huge
returns once it listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Investors are now accusing Lontoh Coal of duping
unsuspecting people into buying shares in the company – the company said it had
a shareholding in mining companies. But an investigation by investors and
responses from the mining houses this week revealed that Lontoh Coal did not
own shares in any mines.
Investors also told City Press that Lontoh Coal chief
executive Tshepo Kgadima promised them a 5% commission if they brought in new
investors. But Kgadima this week was adamant that the company, which was
started in 2006, owned shares in mines, adding that he had a fleet of 70 trucks
and employed 140 drivers.
A list of Lontoh Coal investors shows that more than 90
people invested R11m in the firm.
Skweyiya, who is South African ambassador to the UK, and his
family invested R3.6m, while Luhabe pumped in R160 500 and Health Minister
Motsoaledi put in R1 000.
Angry investors said Kgadima would meet potential investors,
sell them the idea of buying shares and promise that Lontoh Coal would list on
the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Dr Nkululeko Skweyiya, the ambassador’s nephew, said the
veteran politician and his wife, Thuthukile, invested R1.6m, while the Skweyiya
family trust pumped R2m into the company.
“Tshepo Kgadima told us that he was raising funds to list on
the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on November 28. But when the deadline came, he
pushed it forward to March 2012,” said Dr Nkululeko Skweyiya.
Dr Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Fidel Hadebe, said the
minister was “not willing to talk about his private matters in public,
including financial issues”.
Lontoh Coal’s website (www.lontohcoal.com) boasts that it
owns coal mines in Zimbabwe and Piet Retief in Mpumalanga.
However, the bosses of the mines said Lontoh Coal did not
have a stake in the mines.
Rainor Robinson, the managing director of Zimbabwe’s
Liberation Mining, denied that Lontoh Coal owned shares in his company, saying
“there is currently no relationship” between the companies.
“Lontoh has never owned and does not own any stake in
Liberation Mining,” he said.
“We entered into several agreements with Lontoh Coal, which
were intended to result in Lontoh Coal acquiring 51% equity in Liberation
Mining in return for agreed levels of funding. The proposed joint venture was
short-lived and by June 2010 Lontoh began failing to pay various suppliers and
contractors,” Robinson said.
Aaron Ntuli, the director of Piet Retief-based Kwasa Mine,
said Lontoh Coal was only a customer of the mine.
“After negotiations that started in 2010, Tshepo Kgadima last
year told us that Lontoh was still preparing to buy Kwasa Colliery this April,”
Ntuli said. “We have an agreement to supply Lontoh with coal and anthracite.”
Ntuli was upbeat that Lontoh would eventually acquire a
stake in Kwasa. “The mine is available and if they are ready and put down money
on the table, they will take it,” he said.
Kgadima insisted he owned shares in the mines and claimed
that the document that listed the names of the shareholders was stolen from
He said some of the shareholders had in the past been able
to sell their shares privately and made a return of between 40% and 70% within
“If you ask me if there is any company that has given their
investors a 40% return, I would say I don’t know,” said Kgadima.
Dr Nkululeko Skweyiya said he refused to disinvest – after
advice from Kgadima to do so – because he did not trust Kgadima’s advice.
But Kgadima said Dr Nkululeko Skweyiya had no reason to cry
foul because he had advised him to disinvest.
“When Lontoh Coal lists, Dr Skweyiya will never have to work
a day in his life. The Skweyiyas have made a 1000% return,” claimed Kgadima.
Kgadima said all shareholders were free to trade their
“As we prepare to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, I am
the only barred from trading my shares for three years,” he said.
Investor Thembi Tulwana said she met Kgadima through a
friend and he delivered a presentation promising that the company would list on
the JSE in October 2010.
She said the listing never materialised, and Kgadima ducked
and dived when asked to organise a shareholders’ meeting.
Tulwana said her friend tried to sell his shares, but
Kgadima ignored the request. She had not gone to the police because she was
still hoping to recover her money.
Tebogo Taukobong, who invested R10 500 and recruited Luhabe
to invest as well, said his credibility was now ruined because Luhabe was
unlikely to trust him.
Lontoh Coal has parted ways with former chief financial
officer Grace Sexwale and former chief operating officer Phillip Xaba because
of a fallout with Kgadima.
Investors said the company had never held an AGM to update
them on the status of their shares.
- City Press