Editorial: Is Sexwale refusing to acknowledge he was scammed?

Johannesburg – Businessman and former ANC heavyweight Tokyo Sexwale’s allegation that trillions of dollars transferred to the South African Reserve Bank were stolen is mindboggling, to say the least.

The businessman set tongues wagging this week when he revealed that he was appointed in February 2018 to run what was to be called the Heritage Trust Fund, also known as the White Spiritual Boy Trust Fund.

The former Gauteng premier made some outlandish statements as he told how the fund could have been used to build massive infrastructure projects, provide free education, and give a boost to Covid-19 social grants by increasing it to R2 700 a month.

Sexwale made some serious accusations against the Reserve Bank, saying the central bank was involved in a high-level conspiracy, as the money was siphoned off by commercial banks who took it overseas before returning it to the country in the form of investments.

Strange things never cease to happen. Had this not been coming from a man who enjoys such a prominent social status and prestige, we would simply have dismissed Sexwale’s claims as mere delusions of a desperate attention-seeker. But poor Sexwale seems to be innocently sincere when he says he believes that the money reached the Reserve Bank.

He seems convinced and genuine when he says that Singaporean Boey Chark is the international manager of the fund. But what is surprising is why he does not believe the central bank when it denies ever receiving such money. It boggles the mind that the former politician seems to refuse to believe that he was scammed. Sexwale’s press briefing sounded like a comedy as he told how he, like a fool, called from office to office and sent WhatsApps to President Cyril Ramaphosa about the Heritage Trust Fund.

Could Sexwale be so naïve to believe that the money was stolen when even his own comrades, like Finance Minister Tito Mboweni for instance, tell him that he was conned? Explaining the scam, both the Treasury and the Reserve Bank have told how over the years they received requests and promises of billions (now trillions in Sexwale’s case) of rand or dollars, which in their experience could be simply regarded as scams. They said any claims that such funds are meant for deserving causes are merely empty promises to secure the interest of potential victims.

ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, known to be close to Sexwale, also appeared to be pouring scorn on his friend’s allegations, telling News 24 that the money does not exist, as he urged Sexwale to close that chapter. More importantly, as Mashatile suggested, it should be easy to check in Singapore when such money was transferred if such a transaction was indeed effected.

It’s either Sexwale is naïve or is simply in denial about the scam, especially against the backdrop of his refusal to disclose how much he was going to be paid for his role as the main driver of the fund.

Could Sexwale have lost money to international fraudsters? Only time will tell. However, it is revealing that in his own words, Sexwale says he was left “high and dry”.

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