The Zondo Commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture continued with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) related evidence from the state-owned entity’s former group CEO Lucky Montana on Monday (May 10).
Montana presented an opening statement, in which he painted a picture of how he, in his spare time, given that he doesn’t drink or smoke, looks at properties.
He uses his properties to generate a profit and entered into “joint venture partnership” agreement/s with Riaan van der Walt, an attorney, “to share in the profits of companies”. Their relationship commenced in 2012 and came to an end on October 29, 2015.
(Montana left Prasa in July 2015.)
Montana also informed commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that the commission owes him an apology. As for evidence leader Vas Soni SC, Montana accused him of creating a false narrative.
Montana also alleged that “false information about gratification” was leaked to journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh (who penned Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture; Penguin Books, March 2019).
Myburgh had interviewed Montana “and then he went to write an article for Rapport newspaper as well as the City Press …
“And that is where they tried to drag the name of former president [Jacob] Zuma in all of this. This thing is big, chair.”
Montana also alleged that forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan had fed false information to Myburgh, and that “O’Sullivan’s people” had to tried to extract a bribe from him of R500 million. Later in his testimony, Montana alleged that O’Sullivan had threatened people with jail if they did not testify against him on the Siyangena Technologies matter.
Montana wants to have O’Sullivan and Werksmans “here … because I want to use that cross-examination to expose the real criminals”.
“I am here chair … I want to be here to be accountable to the country.”
Soni informed Montana that the commission would only be looking at four properties that Montana had purchased. Montana originally had seven properties.
Montana refuted the allegation made by Clint Oellermann, the commission’s investigator, that his properties had cost R36 million.
Soni cautioned Montana that the purpose of asking questions about these matters is to give him an opportunity to respond to the allegations contained in the documents. Montana took umbrage and informed the chair that he would not be threatened. Zondo explained the rules of fairness in a court of law.
Soni referred Montana to a letter from Ursula Willis, Montana’s personal banker, dated October 30, 2012, in regard to 10 Newport Road, Parkwood.
The letter indicated that the property value was R3.5 million, and the outstanding bond R2 million.
Soni then referred to the offer to purchase the property by Precise Trade for an amount of R6.8 million.
A deposit of R2.5 million was to be paid within 30 days, and the balance of the purchase price was to be paid to the Loubser Van der Walt Incorporated Trust account within 90 days after the signature.
Montana’s “joint venture partnership” partner Riaan van der Walt is a partner of Loubser Van Der Walt. The Deed of Transfer shows the date of transfer to be February 20, 2015.
Van Der Walt’s former partner Nicholas Loubser testified to the commission that Van Der Walt was questioned about the property deals after media articles were written about them.
Van der Walt explained the property deals in a letter dated January 20, 2016, attaching the transaction history of the bank account relating to Precise Trade’s Property deals.
Soni read the transaction history on June 18, 2014:
- An amount of R2.25 million was paid. Such an amount was debited to the Precise Trade account on that day. Montana thinks this was paid to Absa to settle his loan. “But I am being asked about the financial statements of another company not about mine. I think it would have been good if we had my own bank statements … if you look at the R6.8 [million] the bulk of the money did not even come to my account.”
- A deposit of R1.85 million was made in regard to the TMM loan (TMM Holdings owns Siyangena Technologies).
- A payment of R350 000 was made, marked as a payment to Montana.
On July 24, 2014 a withdrawal of R400 000 was made, marked TLM (believed to be the initials of Tshepho Lucky Montana).
Montana said that unfortunately his [bank] accounts have been shut down – “and I do not know if we can get the records”.
Montana struggled to explain how Van der Walt had apportioned the R6.8 million payment.
Montana said “there are emails, chair, by the way, that Riaan and I have been exchanging”. He then said that he no longer has the emails, which he alleged were downloaded by Werksmans.
Soni informed Montana that the commission has relied on documents filed in the Siyangena application.
Prasa had given Siyangena Technologies a tender to supply security infrastructure at Prasa stations. The contracts were set aside in a judgment handed down on October 8, 2020 (case number 2018/14332).
It was alleged that Montana had authorised the tender, and that Siyangena had financed his property transactions.
One of the issues raised in the Siyangena matter was Montana’s relationship with Van der Walt.
Montana in control
During the course of the day Montana made many long-winded explanations that were very difficult to follow, often referring to himself in the third person.
Montana offered a different slant to the phrase ‘follow the money’: “They say follow the money but it is follow the money where it suits us – where it does not suit us we – we then abandon that”.
At one point Zondo interrupted: “Okay I want to stop you there.” Montana soon launched into another story.
In the morning the commission had to adjourn so that Montana could complete his affidavit, and a short break was taken in the afternoon to allow Montana to collect a file of annexures from his car, to be handed into the commission. Some time was taken in numbering all the new annexures and submitting them into evidence.
Montana was satisfied, and said he wanted to demonstrate that “the story that Siyangena or Van Der Walt bought properties from me is false”, and again lamented the fact that he no longer has his bank statements.