Politics

Five things to know about the businessman linked to Maimane's R3.8m 'rented house'

Five things to know about the businessman linked to Maimane's R3.8m 'rented house'

Durban - At the weekend, the embattled leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane found himself cornered when news broke that he listed a R3.8 million Cape Town home as his when, in fact, it does not belong to him. 

When he was asked by Afrikaans newspaper, Rapport, to explain the discrepancies in the parliamentary register of interests, Maimane said he was actually renting it but refused to say how much he was paying. The paper further reported that he said he declared the house unaware that he was not supposed to do so. 

It emerged that the property is owned by Durban billionaire businessman, Wessel Jacobs, of Jacobs Capital.

The party’s national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said contrary to the reports,”the house was declared as a rented property.”  Reacting to calls that it was time for Maimane to face scrutiny like President Cyril Ramaphosa did with the controversial R500 000 Bosasa donation, Malatsi shrugged off that call. 

Independent political analyst, Thabani Khumalo, said this has exposed the party as being no better than the ANC  which it likes to portray as corrupt and infested with people of questionable character. 

We look at five things we now know about Wessel Jacobs.

* He was once a board member of the once loss-making Ithala Bank 

According to the publicly available financial statement of Ithala for the 2013-2014 period, Jacobs was a non-executive director (board member) at Ithala Bank, the entity owned by the KZN government and he was appointed into the position in September 2009. According to the profile, his areas of expertise includes management structures and systems, business plans, business risk and business turn-around strategies. 

* His qualifications include B Pharm, Certificate in Polyurethane Technology and Certificate in Theory of Constraints.

* He once had a legal spat with former SABC and Eskom board chair, Ben Ngubane. 

In February 2014, KZN’s leading Sunday paper, the Sunday Tribune reported about a legal battle between Jacobs and Ben Ngubane, the former chairperson of the boards of Eskom and SABC. According to the paper, Ngubane went to court claiming that he was hoodwinked by Jacobs to sign away 45 percent of his quarry mining business which later collapsed. 

Ngubane wanted a loan from Ithala Bank and he alleged that the documents fell on Jacobs who was a board member who used the opportunity to get shares.

However, Jacobs disputed that he abused his position at Ithala, instead, he said he was doing so to rescue the business as asked by Ngubane. It was not known what the final outcome of the case was. 

* His equity firm is also involved in fast food chain, KFC.

According to information sourced from Jacobs company, Jacobs Capital, his company is also involved in KFC. It says it owns 68 outlets around Gauteng and employs 2000 people. This investment is one of many as the company has an interest in Evowood, a hardboard manufacturing company, Best Bread bakeries and Gelvenor Textiles, among others.

* He has served on several company boards, including famous Da Gama Textile  

Jacobs has served on several company boards and it appears he served in some of them because Jacobs Capitals held shares in those companies. Among the many company boards he has served includes Seashore Properties (Pty) Ltd, Wessel Jacobs Properties (Pty) Ltd, Indium (Pty) Ltd, Central Component Distributors (Pty) Ltd, Ubuciko Twines and Fabrics (Pty) Ltd and Da Gama Textiles (Pty) Ltd in East London. 

Ubuciko Twine is owned by Ithala Finance Development Corporation.  His equity firm bought a stake in a struggling masonite company, but failed to rescue it

In a move that was hailed as a good investment for the KZN Midlands town of Estcourt a few years ago, Jacobs Capital, together with its partner Black Bird Capital invested about R300 million to rescue Masonite Africa which was later renamed Evowood.  

This was to save over 1000 jobs at the company and also save the local timber industry from losing a big client. 

However, in July this year, the mill which was one of the biggest on the continent was placed in voluntary liquidation by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

Political Bureau