Toni’s VBS scandal resurfaces in battle of Vha-Venda throne

The ongoing legal wrangling in the Mphephu Ramabulana Royal House took a dramatic twist in the Limpopo High Court sitting in Polokwane on Tuesday.

This was after lawyers representing Princess Masindi Clementine Mphephu, who is a pretender to the throne, brought allegations of corruption in the Venda Banking Society (VBS) against Toni Mphephu Ramabulana.

It has been over a decade since Toni and his niece, Masindi, took their royal disputes to the courts of law after internal processes failed to determine the legitimacy of the rightful heir to the throne.

In his submission in court, Advocate Alon Dodson, who is representing Masindi, argued that a tainted figure with corruption allegations levelled against him cannot be a credible leader.

“A person associated with corruption cannot be a king or queen. I am making this reference with regard to widespread allegations of wrongdoing levelled against Mr Toni Mphephu Ramabulana in the VBS scandal.

“The corruption scandal has tainted the integrity of the Vha-Venda kingship, and this cannot be overlooked in the royal dispute. A king has to be a law-abiding citizen and someone with moral standing,” Dodson said.

Toni linked to VBS heist

In 2018, Advocate Terry Motau’s damning report alleges that Toni benefited from the collapse of the mutual bank.

In Motau’s report, titled “The Great Bank Heist,”  Toni’s name was listed among 53 people who allegedly “gratuitously” benefited from R1.8 billion from the bank.

When the VBS scandal broke, Toni accused senior executives at VBS of leaving him with a R240,000 monthly bill after they allegedly used his name to secure money from the bank, which went towards a shopping spree for luxury items, including a Bell helicopter.

Revelations came to light that the then VBS chairman, Tshifhiwa Matodzi, and Vele Investment chief executive officer, Robert Madzonga, were fingered to have deceived the king into believing that a R7.8 million Dainfern house, a BMW 7 series, two Mercedes Benz vianos, and a Range Rover were mere gifts. 

Then there were also allegations that Toni was due to receive a herd of cattle from the directors of VBS as a token of apology for the embarrassment caused to him.

To rub salt into the king’s wounds, his Dzata Trust was sequestrated.

Dzata Trust benefitted R10.6-million

The trust, which Toni controlled with his wife, Hulisani, was sequestered over a R10.6-million VBS bill.

It emerged that the Dzata Trust benefited from the almost R2-billion fraudulent scheme that put the final nail in the VBS coffin.

Toni’s legal representative, Carlos de Silva SC, said it would be prejudicial to bring the VBS scandal, in which the accused was never charged.

“It would have made sense if my client was formally charged with criminal wrongdoing and sentenced to 12 months of imprisonment without a fine. What we are hearing here are just baseless allegations that were never proven in any court in the country. While the battle at this juncture is over the kingship and its legitimacy, the VBS scandal and other allegations are not admissible,” De Silver submitted.

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