Johannesburg – Romeo Kumalo and Happy Ntshingila’s 20-year-old bromance has gone to the dogs after a fierce legal showdown over a lucrative business deal that went up in smoke.
Ntshingila and Creative Council co-founder Ran Neu-Ner have accused Kumalo and his wife Basetsana, and former Shark Tank presenter Gil Oved of cutting them out of a multimillion-rand Vodacom deal.
So serious was the fight that Ntshingila and Neu-Ner even filed papers in the Joburg High Court in which they sought relief against Oved, the Kumalos and other parties involved in the deal, which was meant to supply airtime advances to Vodacom’s prepaid customers.
In the court papers, which Sunday World has seen, Ntshingila and Neu-Ner explained how their friendship, which was forged shortly after 1998, collapsed after their business deal which they conceptualised from 2016, fizzled out in 2017.
According to court papers, Ntshingila and Kumalo met around 1998 and before long, the two became best of friends, sharing family holidays and other celebrations.
“Ntshingila was and remains honoured to accept the invitation to be godfather to Kumalo’s son. Their closest of friendship was to endure for some two decades before being subjected to significant strain …” read the papers.
Ntshingila and Neu-Ner said in the court papers that the four had established a consortium called RGRH, with which they wanted to buy shares in a multinational company Channel Vas to supply airtime advances to Vodacom’s prepaid customers.
According to Ntshingila and Neu-Ner, the deal fell through and Oved and Kumalo placed the shares in Basetsana’s company called Basetsana Women Investment Holdings (BWIH), claiming that they wanted to achieve black economic empowerment woman status for Channel Vas’s SA subsidiary Nairtime, which got the tender, leaving them out in the cold.
Ntshingila and Neu-Ner went to court to apply for a court order declaring that the shares in Basetsana’s company or Channel Vas or Nairtime SA be seized and given to their consortium.
In his replying affidavit, Romeo rubbished Neur-Ner and Ntshingila’s claims, saying that even though the deal did not materialise, Ntshingila was not entitled to any benefit because he was not even a shareholder of the consortium.
“I had felt that Ntshingila had let me down as a friend, and caused me a great deal of embarrassment within the consortium, and particularly because I had introduced him to the consortium and the other members had made their member’s contribution, whereas Ntshingila had not,” read the papers.
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He also said Neur-Ner had no right to claim any benefit because he exited the consortium after several acrimonious exchanges between them.
Romeo denied that they had put the shares in his wife’s company BWIH.
He said Vodacom had put out a tender to outsource its airtime advance service, which Nairtime SA pursued with the assistance of Oved and got it in December 2016.
Sunday World also understands that Basetsana, a respected and successful businesswoman in her own right, also filed an affidavit in which she said she and her company were not part of the consortium and got the deal through her hard work.
Ntshingila declined to confirm or deny if there was bad blood between him and Kumalo.
“The matter is no longer in court and has been overtaken by events,” he said.
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