Kgosi’s role in vanishing billions

The findings of the Baloyi commission of inquiry into the affairs of the platinum-rich but impoverished Bakgatla Ba-Kgafela community in North West are being challenged even as the premier of the North West is reported to be appointing an administrator and setting in motion a forensic probe aimed at identifying the specifics of criminal prosecutions that are likely to follow.

The report unravels the haemorrhaging of monies that should have flowed to the Bakgatla community from mining investments, but which were lost through a labyrinthine web of companies, trusts and off-shore entities set up by Kgosi Nyalala Pilane. Despite the kgosi’s reluctance or failure to fully disclose all evidence, this commission of inquiry has provided a rare and valuable public record of the financial flows to a traditional authority in the mining sector.

The report is unequivocal in its finding that Pilane mismanaged the Bakgatla community’s assets, stating he acted with little regard for the clear prescript of the law regarding his fiduciary and legal duties, and did not appear to be concerned about these. It also notes the failure of government departments to fulfil their oversight functions.

The report names prestigious mining companies, attorneys and accounting firms, auditors and consultants involved in the transactions who did not raise concerns with any regulatory authority, raising questions about the corporate sector’s willful blindness to corrupt and unlawful activities under its watch.

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This article by Sasha Wales-Smith first appeared in the Mail and Guardian on 27 September 2019.

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