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South African Businessman, Mr Singh’s Birthday Celebrations, An Epitome of Pomp, Funfair, Civility, Diversity and Excellence

Brian Kazungu

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Mr Jagjit Singh, His Wife and Kids

Brian Kazungu, 06/04/2021

The birthday celebrations for South African businessman Jagjit Singh who is also known as the “Punjab Boy” which was held at The Royal India Restaurant in Sandton, Johannesburg, on the 4th of April 2021, was an epitome of pomp, funfair, civility, diversity and excellence.

Attended by people from various walks of life, including celebrities such as Sophie Lichaba and Llewellyn Cordier, Singh’s birthday which was also declared the JJ Singh Appreciation Day by the Africa Heritage Society, managed to bring South Africans together to celebrate a life of purpose.

Mr Bongani Sibeko, South African film producer (SAWITA), the man behind popular TV Show, Family Secrets, as the Master of Ceremony, breathed a touch of excellence on the mood of this party which was also graced by the firebrand veteran radio presenter Mr Ken Maistry from 702FM.

Many people took turns to shower the “Punjab Boy” with praises and well wishes because of his humane approach to life as well as because of his leadership and business skills which continues to inspire and create opportunities for other people in their day to day lives.

Mr Singh who dedicated his 39th birthday to raising funds for the treatment of cancer patients, donated R5000 to the C2C-BOAF Cancer Initiative and encouraged others to also participate in this worthy cause through the https://sa.africaemart.com/product/C2C—1873-CANCER-INITIATIVE-CAMPAIGN-gYCKl.

In celebrating and honouring Mr Singh for his noble deeds and proclaiming his birthday as the JJ Singh Appreciation Day, the Africa Heritage Society Chairperson Mr Mutumwa Mawere reminded people that they cannot create life but can rather celebrate its renewal.

“Life has its origin and human beings can’t create life, they can only reproduce it and this reproduction is renewed annually.

He added that in coming up with the Africa Heritage Society which honoured Singh with an appreciation day, the main issue which inspired the organisation was the question of identity i.e., Who Am I? Who is an African? What kind of an Africa do I want to see etc.?

When we celebrate your birthday, it’s just a reminder that this is the day you were born. It doesn’t give you an identity because we were all created. When we celebrate life, we are actually celebrating the renewal of another instalment.” Mr Mawere said.

Nadira and Ashley Govender presented Mr. Singh with an Honorary Diamond Membership and an Award on behalf of Birthday Club South Africa (BCLUBSA) which organized the birthday event in partnership with BMW Fast Track Racing, C2C and MTown Sherriff.

“We, at BCLUBSA and the founding members are honoured to celebrate the life and journey of Mr Singh. Mr Singh, we humbly welcome you as a diamond member to the Club. We wish you the best of everything in the years ahead. May you prosper in all you do.

As a club, we want to assist our new members in celebrating their lives and journeys and being blessed with seeing another year.

When we began this venture, I stumbled across a quote which says: The two most important days in your life are the day when you were born and the day you find out why.

That being said, we as a club represent love, peace, unit and culture bringing together people from different backgrounds, appreciating life and sharing in joy with the most dearest friends and family.” Nadira explained.

Interpol Ambassador, Mr Andy Mashaile spoke highly of JJ, the Punjab Boy, describing him as a great man and a General.

“You are a great man. You can’t walk with champions when you are not a champion….When Generals invite you into their room, you become a General. It is God who caused you to be a General. It is God who asks those people to call you into their room and tell them that this man is a General…. Long story short, you are not a lowly person….. Your behavior tells us that you are a winner.” The Ambassador said.

Speaking at the same event, Lavo Wines founder and the CEO of Polyzomba Rail Contractors which specializes in Rail construction and maintenance, Lerato Pretorious described Mr. Singh, the owner of The Royal India Restaurant as a true “Royal Man”.

While presenting him with a blanket in line with her Sotho culture, Lerato further narrated how what started off as mere business encounter with the Punjab Boy has culminated into a typical family association of a brother and a sister.

In her emotion and gratitude filled birthday speech, Lerato said “JJ, you are a true Royal Man. You command respect and you are confident. You demonstrate your leadership skills to both well established and new businesses. I admire your hard and smart work.

Your magnificent story From India to South Africa, detailing how you started and where you are now is very humbling and inspiring. You are a loving husband to your wife and a good father to your children.

You now speak many South African languages and you always encourage your stuff to improve their lives. I am grateful for the partnership between Lavo Wines and The Royal India Restaurant. I am very excited and already enjoying the benefits.”

Veteran South African freedom fighter, politician, psychologist and academic, Dr Sathasivian Cooper in absentia expressed his excitement on the fact that Singh dedicated his birthday for societal benefit, a gesture which he described as a worthy selfless contribution to humanity.

“It is fantastic that you have dedicated your birthday to societal benefit, unflinchingly sharing your knowledge, skills, experience and resources. This is the mark of a selfless member of the human family which more of us can emulate.

There is no better contribution that we can make in serving those less fortunate than ourselves – through no fault of their own – than conscious and considerate enabling of true community underpinned by compassion and commitment.” Dr Copper said.

The internationally recognised South African martial arts legend and President of Karate South Africa, Mr Sonny Pillay who once honoured Mr Singh with a Commendation Award of Honour in Karate on its 101 Charity Awards described the ‘Punjab Boy’ as a man with a heart of gold.

In a speech read on his behalf by award winning karate instructor and executive member of Karate South Africa, Mr Kruben Pillay who described Singh’s birthday party as first class event, Singh was praised and congratulated for his tenacity, determination and courage.

“Allow me to pay tribute to my dear friend JJ, a dynamic personality who never fails to exhibit tenacity, determination and courage despite the turbulence times we live in. JJ has a heart of gold and will give you a t-shirt on his back even if it’s the last one if a friend is in desperate times. It noteworthy how JJ has kept The Royal India alive….. A remarkable achievement indeed……”Mr Pillay said.

While giving a vote of thanks to family, friends and well-wishers who gathered at The Royal India Restaurant for the birthday celebrations, Mr Singh appealed to everyone to continue supporting the hospitality industry and wished that it can continue to prosper together with the rest of the country.

He also encouraged people to always check on each other during these challenging times and expressed appreciation to President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Command Council for allowing the hospitality industry to operate during the Easter Holiday.

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South Africa

Mashaba’s Ghosts Haunt Johannesburg’s City Power and Exposes SAPS

Brian Kazungu

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Mr. Herman Mashaba: Picture Credit - News24

Brian Kazungu, 19/04/2021

In July 2017, Johannesburg High Court dismissed an urgent application by Setheo Engineering to interdict the then Johannesburg Executive Mayor and current President of Action SA, Mr. Herman Mashaba from tweeting about its contract with City Power.

Setheo, a construction and engineering company had sought to interdict Mashaba, the City of Johannesburg and any of its employees from tweeting or issuing media statements about the alleged corrupt contract until investigation by the Hawks were finalised.

The then City Power Director of Finance, Mr Daniels deposed to an affidavit in relation to criminal complaint that was directly opened by the Hawks in this R143-million contract which was awarded to Setheo in March 2015.

He stated as true and fact that R65 million was paid in contravention of City Power regulations governing payments to service providers which state that work done must first pass muster and be assessed by officials before payment can be effected.

Former Hawks employee, General Sibiya, who was ‘hired’ by Mashaba to head City of Johannesburg’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) unit confirmed as factually true that about R65-million had been paid to Setheo.

The money was said to be for the building of a new electrical substation in Eldorado Park‚ south of Johannesburg.

Consequently, a docket was opened directly by the Hawks under Case Number CAS 399/05/2017 and two City Power officials‚ both project managers‚ were arrested for the alleged irregularities regarding the contract.

City of Johannesburg Spokesperson at that time, Luyando Mfeka said that further payments requested by Setheo were intentionally withheld at the instigation of Mashaba.

During the same period, Mashaba tweeted twice about the alleged corruption surrounding the contract — the first during a visit to the site saying “very little” of the work paid for had been done.

Four days later‚ he tweeted again‚ attaching a picture of a signboard on which Setheo’s name appeared. It was Setheo’s argument that the tweets‚ when read together‚ were defamatory and had led to business partners questioning whether Mashaba’s statements were about them.

Setheo opined that Mashaba, who had no direct legal nexus with City Power, which is a juristic entity, had unilaterally and arbitrarily declared this turnkey contract as tainted by corruption.

Mr. Mfeka, the former Joburg Spokesperson, highlighted that: “A founding affidavit has been submitted to the Hawks on the matter. The investigation is ongoing. Last week‚ the Mayor requested the Hawks to provide feedback on the investigation which we are awaiting.

With respect to suspected corruption in relation to the Eldorado Substation‚ two City Power senior officials who were project managers‚ have been suspended to date. Further to this‚ payments requested by the contractor are currently being withheld by the power utility.

The contractor in question has a number of other maintenance contracts with City Power‚ the most significant of which is the restoration contract for the Hopefield substation.”

Setheo responded by saying “Engineering projects differ in terms of proportions of work onsite and offsite. On the Eldorado case‚ 80% of the work is off site with a huge component being imported equipment.

The consultant appointed by City Power to oversee the project had drafted a letter confirming that the work done so far‚ on and off site‚ “in fact exceeds the R65-million paid by City Power”.

All payments made to Setheo Engineering by City Power were in line with the NEC contract governing the engagement between the two. Whilst we will deal with specific payments in detail‚ take note that transformers that are on site in Eldorado are worth over R40 million.

We have equipment that we have ordered and not yet delivered on site but proof from the suppliers that it has either been fully paid for or partially paid.

All payments made to contractors by City Power are verified by an independent consultant appointed by City Power to ensure that all claims being made by the contractors are in line with their policy. It is therefore quite surprising to us to be learning through social media that we are corrupt‚ inept and untrustworthy.” Setheo explained.

City Power stopped payments to Setheo prior to the matter being referred to the Hawks who openly admitted that the complaint was a criminal and not a civil matter.

Mashaba had boldly asserted that Setheo had refused, failed and neglected to pay sub-contractors notwithstanding the fact that it was City of Johannesburg who had induced City Power to stop paying Setheo since October 2016 outside the provisions of the contract.

 “The last payments were made by City Power directly to the sub-contractors with our consent. It is correct that work on the project has stalled due to non-payment of our invoices by City Power since October 2016. We have thus this far carried the project using our own resources.” Setheo stated.

While commenting on the matter, legal consultant and member of the Connections2Communites (C2C), Mr. Frederick Kyle said: “The facts of this matter confirm that Mashaba, the creator of GFIS, whose legal status is obscure to say the least, was the driving force behind the criminalization of what would ordinarily be a civil matter.

The mere fact that the case was opened directly by the Hawks is troubling.

I am also concerned that it was Mashaba who through social media broke the news that Setheo was under investigation for fraud by the Hawks without the Hawks affording Setheo an opportunity to be heard.”

The criminal complaint was prosecuted by the NPA and after 12 appearances, the National Prosecuting Authority withdrew the charges.

However, after Mashaba’s exit as Mayor, the same charges were reinstated resulting in the arrest of Mr. Brighton Chifamba, a former employee of Setheo, on 12 October 2020 on the same charges of 2017.

The charges against the two (2) Setheo directors were also reinstated in December 2020 as were the charges against the former City Power employees.

In 2017, Setheo stated that: “Our main challenge is the non-payment of our invoices by City Power and the domino effect it has had in our value chain of suppliers‚ employees and clients.”

In an article published by City Press on 11 April 2021, it was reported that SAPS had withdrawn a criminal case of theft against CP for an alleged hostile takeover of the disputed machinery that was purchased and delivered by Setheo.

https://www.news24.com/citypress/News/eldorado-park-substation-city-power-dodges-theft-charge-20210410,

Gauteng Police Spokesperson, Mathapelo Peter, confirmed that a case of theft was opened on Wednesday and was registered at the Sandton Police Station and that this case was then closed after ‘alleged’ preliminary investigations had confirmed that it was a civil matter.

C2C-BOAF Director of Public Engagements and Outreach, Mr. JJ Singh said: “We have been following this dispute closely.

I was part of the community delegation that met with City of Johannesburg’s MMC responsible for City Power affairs, Councillor Mpho Moerane, to raise our concern that it was disingenuous for City Power and City of Johannesburg to prosecute a contractual dispute as a criminal offence

This constituted a bad precedent especially in relation to the affairs of public institutions.

It may not be apparent that one of our members Mr. Brighton Chifamba was arrested on 12 October 2020 by the Hawks on the allegation that as a former employee of Setheo he was party to a fraud involving an unjust enrichment to the tune of R66 million.

He has been in remand prison since October 2020. Against this backdrop, we expected that the SAPS would act in the interests of justice by investigating the veracity of the allegation that public funds were stolen by Setheo and City Power was a competent complainant.

City Power officials blame the former Mayor for causing the problems, yet the deeds of the former Mayor seem to be affirmed by the current administration.

It is troubling that Brigadier Peters would on the one hand assert that the decision by Sandton Police Station to close an investigation whose purpose is to assist the promotion and protection of justice is rational and in the interests of justice.

We intend to request the Sandton Police Station to provide reasons why the same facts would produce two contradictory outcomes i.e. one criminal prosecution and another refusal to investigate, from the SAPS.” Singh said.

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City Power Embroiled in an Equipment Theft Charge as Former Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba Gets Exposed In the Eldorado Electricity Project

Brian Kazungu

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Brian Kazungu, 08/04/2021

Following the resumption of construction work on the Eldorado Park substation project, this publication has established that a criminal complaint was registered with SAPS on 7 March 2021 under Case number CAS 150/4/2021.

It is alleged that the equipment and related services inclusive of the project’s technical drawings are the property of Setheo Engineering Pty Limited which were acquired and provided pursuant to a contract concluded in March 2021 between City Power and Setheo as principals.

Whose equipment is it? Since the appointment of Actom, a previous sub-contractor of Setheo to be the main contractor in this project, a question that has arisen is on the ownership of the project equipment.

Mr. Stanley Itshegetseng, Deputy Director: Communication and Stakeholder Relations in the office of Councilor Mpho Moerane, the Member of the Mayoral Committee with oversight responsibilities in relation to City Power said that the equipment belongs to City Power and not to Setheo.

“The equipment is the property of City Power because the funds used to acquire it were provided by City Power. In addition, at the time, a new contractor, Actom was appointed recently, the equipment was situated at the premises of City Power. One must accept that possession is tantamount to ownership and should Setheo dispute this, it can approach the courts for relief.”Stanley explained.

However, Mr Mulaudzi of AG Mulaudzi Attorneys and a member of the corporate, civic and community awareness nonprofit initiative, C2C Network begged to differ on that narrative.

“From the facts that we have been able to go through, it is not in dispute that Setheo’s relationship with City Power was not that of a principal to agent one but Setheo was awarded a turnkey project to provide a working substation.

Setheo was responsible for designing, erecting, installing and commissioning a substation. According the complete project was to be handed over to City Power as a solution.  

Contrary to allegations made by the former Mayor Mashaba, that City Power paid to Setheo an amount of R66 million for no work done, the facts on the ground suggest that Mashaba acted maliciously in opening a criminal case against Setheo directors and two former City Power employees alleging that these funds were diverted.

The right, title and interest to the equipment is vested with Setheo until handover of the project on completion and any other legal construction is mala fides.”

While commenting on the same issue, an Eldorado Community Liason Official who is based at the site said: “I can confirm that Mashaba visited the site and at the time the equipment purchased by Setheo had arrived but had yet to be cleared by customs.

It was eventually cleared and delivered here by the order of Setheo. Setheo was the consignee in relation to the imported equipment.

It is my understanding that Mr. Themba Mahlangu, who was the Project Manager, at the time visited the original equipment manufacturers to inspect the equipment before shipment. He was accompanied by Mr. M. Thoka who was arrested at the instigation of Mashaba.

Once the equipment arrived here, it was tested again by City Power officials and I believe it passed the tests. We were all shocked when we heard that Mashaba with his colleagues at City of Joburg were alleging that the equipment did not exist as a matter of fact.

I can confidently confirm that no new equipment was supplied by City Power prior to the appointment of Actom, who apparently were Setheo’s subcontractor, as the main contractor.

I can also confirm that the SAPS officers were here at site to establish the true owner of the equipment and the provider of the platform on which the equipment stands. I told them that the equipment was provided prior to the arrest of the Setheo and City Power officials.

I also gave them the contact details of Actom’s Project Manager working on this project and I was not aware of the fact that there was no handover and takeover process between Setheo and Actom. We are meeting with the MMC today and I intend to establish the truth in this matter.

If the criminal charges are correct, then City Power cannot claim ownership in one forum and in another be party to another forum alleging that the equipment was never purchased. Until the visit by the police yesterday, it had not dawned on us that we could have been sold a dummy.

As a community, we don’t want to be party to Mashaba’s shenanigans. He came here and we told him of the progress of the project but he was driven by some unexplained rage and proceeded to stop the project.

I put the blame for the unfortunate delay of this project on Mashaba and his friend, retired General Sibiya.”

Lawyer Mulaudzi continued to explain that: “This case clearly exposes the abuse of public power by Mashaba and his successors.

It is not clear on what legal and constitutional basis can City Power claim ownership of the physical and identifiable assets that were purchased by Setheo in line with its contractual obligations based on a signed contract.

It would be interesting to see if City Power can provide evidence that it owns the drawings, civils provided by Setheo, and the equipment supplied by third parties including Actom pursuant to the contract.

The law of contracts precludes this kind of self-help to take place especially where public institutions and trust is involved. In fact, City Power ought to have obtained a court order prior to displacing Setheo as a contractor.

It is my understanding that City Power in choosing to deal with this contested equipment has refused, neglected and failed to benefit from the protection of the law. I beg to differ that possession is ownership. The absurdity of this preposterous construction is self-evident.

Imagine I leave a car at your house for storage, then you claim ownership. Equally, imagine you give me money to buy an asset for a project only to find you are taking the asset as yours without my knowledge and consent. This is a recipe for anarchy.’ Mlaudzi said.

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South Africa

South African Businesses Cry Foul Over The Non Bearable Basic Eskom Tariff During Covid-19 Pandemic – “Reduced Consumption Versus 100% Basic Fee Is Extortionary.”

Brian Kazungu

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Brian Kazungu, 17/02/2021

Businesses in South Africa are crying foul over what they termed as non-bearable basic Eskom tariffs which they consider to be extortionary when taking into account the reduced actual consumption which resulted from the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.

Some business owners who said they had engaged Eskom over the matter expressed concern on the fact that the power supplier has continued to bill them as normal and yet the lockdown has prevented them from utilising their properties since people are being made to work from home.

One of the landlords who signed an Integrated Electricity Supply Contract with Eskom said that because of the lockdown and its impact on their operations, their actual consumption has reduced by 70% but the power company is not cooperative in having the tariff adjusted.

They also revealed that attempts to discuss the issues with Eskom proved to be non-effective as the company indicated that the process to apply for the alteration of a supply contract to reflect the reduced consumption to current level takes about 12 months to process and approve.

“Just imagine spending 12 months paying 70% more on something when you really know you must be paying only 30% of that amount.

For example, on an integrated supply contract of 315 KVA, you have to pay about R12 000 ceteris paribus but our current consumption is only 90 KVA. Why should we then pay for the absurd 200 KVA that we are not using?” The businessman fumed.

Business owners who were organizing themselves into a group of aggrieved parties that share a common problem said they were planning to take Eskom to the courts in order to invoke the Force Majeure principle which they said was provided for in the contracts.

A lawyer who commented on the issue said “rather than leave their fate to the common law doctrine of Supervening Impossibility, in modern times, parties, in a bid to manage risk, have sought to regulate Supervening Impossibility by specifically making provision for it in written contracts.

These clauses can either broaden or narrow down the scope of the doctrine depending on what the parties agree. Such contractual clauses have popularly come to be known as “Force Majeure” clauses.

Thus in the event of supervening impossibility, the Court will look to the “Force Majeure Clause” to determine the dispute. In the absence of such a clause the court will apply the common law.

Secondly, it is important to understand that the actual legal principle is that of “Supervening Impossibility”. Normally, a party who fails to deliver his part of the bargain is guilty of “breach of contract” and the offended party can sue for specific performance or cancellation and damages.

However, if performance has been rendered impossible by an occurrence beyond their control such as “force majeure” in the form of, e.g. an earthquake, volcano, tsunami or a plague, they are absolved from liability.

Therefore in this case, force majeure (e.g. a Tsunami), is the supervening event that has made performance impossible.” He explained.

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