AAAM and businessman in unholy row over R45 000

A Johannesburg businessman has accused the African Alliance Movement (AAAM), Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe-aligned Christian political party, of refusing to return R45 000 that was inadvertently deposited into its account.

Formed by pastors, AAAM attracted attention in January when, at the former president’s speech to men of the cloth in Soweto, it declared its support for Zuma and endorsed the MK party.

Sunday World can now confirm that AAAM, which had previously tried in vain to entice former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to run for president in 2024, owes money to Nirav Merai after the businessman unintentionally transferred R65 000 into the account of one of the party’s leaders.

Merai, a director of Attitude Fashions and Merai Group, told the party’s recipient, Archbishop Mozewendoda Phillip Khumalo, that the money was deposited in error and made multiple attempts to get it returned to him.

When Merai noticed that AAAM was not returning the money, he approached his lawyers to demand the R65 000 that had been mistakenly deposited into AAAM’s bank account in March.

Lawyers waiting for a response

Merai’s attorneys have allegedly not received a response from the party to the four demand letters they sent to AAAM and Khumalo demanding that they return the money.

The first letter of demand, which we have seen, was sent on May 8, in which Peer Carrim Attorneys state that they want the money paid back.

Reads the letter of demand: “We confirm that we act on behalf of Nirav Merai. Our client has instructed us to write to you as follows … On or about March 17 2023, our client mistakenly transferred R65 000 to the account of the All African Alliance Movement [AAAM] with account number 63XXXXXXXXX.

“A proof of payment for the transfer is attached hereto as Annexure A. Our client intended to transfer the monies to one of his accounts but made an error and transferred the same to the AAAM.

“Our client contacted Archbishop Mozewendoda Phillip [Khumalo] of the AAAM regarding the error in transferring the monies and further sent a message to Archbishop Mozewendoda Phillip [Khumalo].

“Archbishop Mozewendoda Phillip [Khumalo] informed our client that the monies would be refunded by April 20 2023.

“To date hereof, the AAAM has refused and/or neglected to refund the monies paid by our client. Our client hereby demands that the aforesaid amount be paid back to him by no later than May 19 2023.

“Kindly contact our offices to obtain our client’s bank account details.”

Threat to liquidate

Another letter of demand was sent on June 29. At that point, Merai’s legal team told the political party that they planned to liquidate the organisation if the money was not paid back.

“Our client has instructed us to write to you as follows … To date hereof, you have failed to make any payments towards the R65 000.00 owing to our client. We have further attempted to contact you on multiple occasions but have not received any answer or response,” wrote Pieter Goosen of Peer Carrim Attorneys.

“Should the full amount not be settled by Wednesday, July 5 2023, our instructions are to proceed with a liquidation application against the All African Alliance Movement and to notify the media of the AAAM’s conduct.”

The businessman is alleged to have received only R20 000 from AAAM, leaving R45 000 unpaid.

After sending two more letters of demand in September and December, Merai’s lawyers stated that if AAAM failed to pay back the outstanding amount within seven days from the date of the last letter sent in December, they would be left with no choice but to immediately notify all media platforms of AAAM’s alleged criminal activity.

The money was a donation

The secretary-general of AAAM, Bishop Meshack Tebe, told Sunday World that Merai’s claim that she accidentally put money into the party’s account was false.

Tebe claimed that Merai had given the money to his party as a donation and that, at the time the money was transferred into the political party’s account, the businessman had even included a reference number that stood for AAAM.

“When the money was deposited, we could not see who the depositor was, and we even had to go to the bank in Protea Glen to verify the identity of the person who sent it to our account,” Tebe said.

“We dispute Merai’s version that he sent the money to our party bank account by mistake.

“He did put R65 000 into AAAM’s account, and what we know is that the money was for a donation.

“When he told us that the money was not for a donation, we spoke to him and even went to the extent of raising R20 000 that we delivered to him at one of his shops.

“We stated to him that we do not have money to pay the rest, and we said to him that we needed this to be resolved amicably, as our intention was to raise cash that will be paid back to him in instalments.”

Tebe further emphasised that Merai ultimately sent demand letters to the party from his lawyers.

The party is struggling with cash flow

“We told Merai and his lawyers that they would get the money, but they started threatening us, telling us that they would go to court, and we told them to do that,” Tebe said.

“They later came back and told us that they would go to the media to expose us for not paying them the money that their client had deposited willingly.

“We are not going to be threatened by Merai and his lawyers in that regard. We are a party that is struggling with cash flow, and we can even reveal the records of our bank statements and account.

“We are not refusing to pay back the remaining R45 000, and we cannot be bullied by Merai and his lawyers as if we were responsible that he deposited that cash into our account.

“We will pay him when we get the money, and they must stop threatening us with the courts and the media.”

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News