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Who's who at Lebashe, the investment group that just acquired Tiso Blackstar's media assets

Jun 28 2019 19:01
Marelise van der Merwe

Lebashe Investment Group is a 100% black-owned unlisted investment holding company. According to its website, its vision is to become a leading African investment company by focusing on three core investment silos: Financial Services, ICT and Industrial Technology, and "Complementary Sectors".

Its interests include a 7.2% shareholding in Capitec, 26.3% in EOH, 100% in Lebashe Capital, 16.94% in 4AfricaExchange and 74.92% in Rainfin.

Its investment in Capitec has made headlines during the commission of inquiry into the affairs of the Public Investment Corporation. The shares, controversially, were acquired from the state-owned asset manager, using a R2.25bn loan from the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), whose assets are managed by the PIC.

Board of Directors

Tshepo Mahloele, Chair

Mahloele, also one of Lebashe's founding principals, is CEO of Harith General Partners. 

Harith Fund Managers was set up in 2007 to manage the investments of the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund, which ultimately raised $630m. Harith General Partners, meanwhile, was established a few years later to raise money for a second fund, the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund 2, which raised $435m.

He is the recipient of three recognition awards from the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals for his work, including the CEO of the Decade award.

He previously headed the Corporate Finance and Isibaya Fund divisions of the PIC.

Testifying before the PIC inquiry, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa called for the inquiry to scrutinise the state-owned asset manager's unlisted portfolio more closely, as well as its links to former directors, in case of a conflict of interest. Three companies fingered by Holomisa were Lebashe, Harith General Partners, and Harith Fund Managers.

It was not the first time Holomisa had accused Harith of wrongdoing, having earlier written to former public protector Thuli Madonsela to claim funds were being channeled from the PIC through Harith to benefit the ANC.

In July 2018, the High Court in Pretoria issued an order against Holomisa to stop making or repeating corruption allegations against Lebashe or its directors, following an application by the entities.

Mahloele told the inquiry that media and others were welcome to "look at our books".

In April, Mahloele was asked by assistant commissioner Emmanuel Lediga about the relationship between Harith and Lebashe, and if any fees Harith earned from its investments were used to fund Lebashe. He denied it.

According to the Lebashe website, Mahloele "actively implemented the [PIC's] Black Economic Empowerment strategy, where he concluded R13bn worth of transactions over three years and a new strategy for the Isibaya Fund, which achieved a 45% return for the 2003/2004 financial year and 40% return for 2004/2005 financial year."

In 2017, News24 reported that Mahloele sold a Pretoria mansion to ex Eskom CEO Brian Molefe at a substantial discount. Mahloele said the sale was above board.

He was also linked to a controversial plan by state-owned company PetroSA to buy petrol stations across the country. Dubbing the saga 'Oilgate', the Mail & Guardian reported in 2013 that Harith replaced international bank HSBC as advisers on the deal, at substantial cost to PetroSA, and earning Harith a profit of over R300m.

Jabu Moloketi, non-executive director

Moleketi served as PIC chairperson while he was deputy finance minister under former President Thabo Mbeki between 2004 and 2008.

He resigned during the mass walk-out of ministers and deputies in September 2008, which included former finance minister Trevor Manuel, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former minister of intelligence Ronnie Kasrils. His wife Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, then minister of Public Service and Administration, was also among them.

Moleketi, too, is linked to Harith Fund Managers, Harith General Partners and the Lebashe Investment Group.

He has dismissed Holomisa's claims of a cartel of PIC-backed BEE beneficiaries as "hurtful and damaging".

Moleketi says the loan from the PIC to establish HFM was paid in full, and the companies have hit back at criticism of his appointment as CEO of Harith, saying there were no other suitable candidates.

He is chair of Vodacom Group and PPC, and is non-executive chair of the Development Bank of SA and Brait.

Moleketi's name also surfaced during the Hawks' probe of the so-called SA Revenue Service 'rogue unit'.

Warren Wheatley, director

Wheatley has primarily made recent headlines for his links to Moleketi and Mahloele via Lebashe.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he is also Managing Principal and Co-founder of TSS Capital (owned by Lebashe) director of Aluwani Capital Partners (of which Moleketi is a director), and he is a director of the abovementioned Rainfin, partially owned by Lebashe.

He is a trustee and deputy chair of the Telkom Retirement Fund.

According to Lebashe's website, Wheatley is a Chartered Accountant and Certified Financial Planner. He also serves as a Non-Executive Director for the Financial Planning Institute of South Africa.

He started his career as an article clerk with BC Hall and Company and concluded his professional training with Alexander Forbes Financial Services, and worked as an investment banker at Absa Capital.

Wheatley is married to SA model, psychologist and beauty pageant titleholder Tatum Keshwar, who was crowned Miss South Africa in 2008.

Lebashe's legal adviser is one Robin Wheatley.

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