Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Obed Bapela allegedly bought a multimillion-rand mansion in Morningside, Sandton secretly, then hired a contractor to demolish parts of it.
The contractor, Johannes Majoe, was also hired to build a new structure on the property, which included nine bedrooms, five bathrooms and a double-storey entertainment area, and was allegedly paid in hard cash stuffed in bags.
Majoe confirmed to Sunday World on Friday that he received cash payments of R420 000, R260 000 and R160 000 from Bapela and his wife, Connie, a former Johannesburg council speaker who passed away in February 2018.
In response to the questions, Bapela conceded that he owned the property, and that the house was bought 15 years ago, and that at that time it was R2.5 million, and that he would have to get into papers to confirm the exact date and year. Bapela said the delay was due to the contractor disappearing and abadoning an imcomplete house, also adding that the bond “was with FNB, and had completed paying “with a lump-sum payment from the estate of his late wife”.
Majoe claims that he and his team of 18 employees were also given strict instructions not to tell anyone that the house belongs to the Bapelas.
“We weren’t allowed to tell a soul who the owners of the house were or to take photos of it.” Majoe claims.
Sunday World has seen the agreement the Bapelas signed with Majoe in February 2014, where the contractor charged them R345 000 for labour and R428 073.00 for building material.
At the time the contract was signed, Bapela was the deputy minister in the presidency for performance monitoring and evaluation, a position he held from October 24, 2011, until May 2014.
When the construction started in November 2014, Bapela was the deputy minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, a position he held from May 26, 2014, to May 25, 2019.
According to the contract, seen by Sunday World, “the contractor is required to demolish part of the house and construct the alterations and additions of the house as described on the drawings and in the specifications and in accordance with the requirements of the building regulations.”
The construction was scheduled to be finished in July 2015.
Majoe said he was shocked and surprised when the Bapelas paid him in hard cash, especially to buy building material.
“I was nervous and scared; remember, the first payment was the R420 000, which was in a small sports bag. From their house, I drove straight to the bank and deposited the money into my account. I didn’t understand why they were keeping such a large amount of cash in their house.”
Majoe said the second payment was R260 000, which was stuffed in a gift bag, and again, it was allegedly given to him at the Bapelas’ house.
Majoe said the third payment of R160 000 was paid in dramatic fashion like seen in mafia movies, as another gift bag was thrown in his car through the window near the Market Theatre in Johannesburg.
Majoe claims things started getting sour in 2017 as he didn’t finish the construction in July 2015 as the Bapelas ran out of cash to buy more material and even failed to pay him for his labour. Majoe claims his tools worth R135 290 are still at the deputy minister’s property.
Majoe went to Sandton police station on Friday to open a case against Bapela to get his tools back and his outstanding payment.
In a statement to police, seen by Sunday World, Majoe claims he “stopped construction at this site as payment was outstanding. My tools were still on the construction site at this time. I did go there in 2017, but I was chased away by the security.”
“It is very sad that one of the leaders of the ruling party is trying to destroy a small and emerging black-owned business,” he said.