Why we threw out PetroSA chairman from Business Day

petrosaPETROSA chairman Tshepo Kgadima was ejected from Business Day’s offices on Thursday by security guards after refusing to leave when a visit to editor Songezo Zibi deteriorated into a confrontation.

Mr Kgadima arrived at our Rosebank offices and was invited in to answer questions on claims that he had swindled money out of prominent politicians and other investors in mining projects that did not exist. Mr Kgadima instead insisted on interrogating Mr Zibi on whether or not he adhered to the Press Code. He then questioned the nationality of reporter Samuel Mungadze and brought up claims made previously by a company that had laid a criminal charge against Mr Mungadze.

“Mr Kgadima’s behaviour was disappointing and unbecoming of the chair of a key state-owned enterprise. He did not refute any aspect of our story and failed to respond to questions we attempted to put to him. If he was trying to intimidate Business Day, then he failed,” Mr Zibi said.

Business Day has tried to get comment from Mr Kgadima since his appointment as chairman of the PetroSA board on Friday caused a stir. On Wednesday, former social development minister Zola Skweyiya said he was considering criminal charges against Mr Kgadima relating to a R3m investment that he was unable to recover. Mr Skweyiya described Mr Kgadima as a fraudster and said he would approach President Jacob Zuma about Mr Kgadima’s appointment to the PetroSA board, which is a state-owned company.

Mr Skweyiya is among 250 investors understood to have lost money in mining projects run by LontohCoal, of which Mr Kgadima was CEO and president. The investments that went sour were for coal ventures for which the company did not have mining rights. Mr Kgadima claimed to own Kwasa Colliery in Piet Rietief, which turned out to be untrue. This was one asset he asked people to invest in. New allegations emerged on Thursday on which Business Day sought comment. They include:

• That Mr Kgadima never owned mining assets in Zimbabwe, though this is claimed in press releases and in video interviews with him. Based on that and other claims of high-value assets, he tried to sell 30-million shares at R12 a share in LontohCoal.

• He tried to sell a jet in Swaziland in a deal involving a famous South African musician, but the aircraft belonged to neither him nor a business partner.

• He published a listing prospectus in which the assets listed did not belong to his company, LontohCoal, and that this constituted fraud.

Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, chairwoman of the Central Energy Fund, which owns PetroSA, declined to comment on Thursday.

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