The man who once accused former Mpumalanga premier, Dr Mathews Phosa, of authoring a report which claimed that the current premier, David Mabuza was an apartheid-era spy, now claims there’s a plot to kill Phosa.
Jan Venter, once employed as Phosa’s house manager but resigned last year amid allegations of theft of money and information belonging to Phosa, claimed in a media statement on Monday that since his fallout with Phosa earlier this year, he had been having secret meetings with officials from the presidency and Mabuza and his lawyer.
“I was around February this year contacted by people from the Presidency and I spoke to someone very close to President Zuma of which his name and contact number is known to Dr Phosa, I contacted them because the SSA and NIA did not keep their word (to protect) my family and this entire ordeal became more dangerous by the day. There were cars following me and I was shot at and up to this point I believed it was Dr Phosa’s people,” he said.
Venter said that he initially co-operated with the “people from the presidency”, but claims that things changed when he was told that there was a decision to eliminate Phosa.
“Roughly 2/3 months ago I spoke to the one gentleman of which his name is known to Dr Phosa and I asked about the protection for my family, his exact words in front of a witness whom I trust (one of very few) was ‘Jan we have two options, putting your family into protection or eliminating the problem and we decided to eliminate the problem’,” said Venter in a statement.
He admitted that while he was engaged in a legal battle with Phosa, the thought of being part of those who would kill Phosa was too much for him to fathom.
“I could not believe what I heard and this made me even more afraid because although Dr Phosa and I were in a legal battle these people, the Phosa family, were like my own family. Dr Phosa and I (on) many occasions on Saturdays and Sundays just sat in his house and spoke not like boss and worker but like father and son,” said Venter.
Ziwaphi has seen the names and contact numbers of the people that Venter claims he has been meeting.
When Ziwaphi called one of the telephone numbers, it rang unanswered until it went on voice mail, and it turned out that the name on the voice mail is similar to the one that Venter supplied.
“Hello this is …(name withheld), I’m currently not available, please try me later,” says the voice mail.
Presidential spokesperson, Bongani Majola, however, distanced the presidency from the claims.
He said that no one from the presidency ever held any meeting with Venter.
“The Presidency strongly rejects the spurious allegations made by Mr Jan Venter, a former employee of Dr Mathews Phosa, which claim that officials from the Presidency met him apparently as part of some plot to discredit Dr Phosa.
“The shocking allegations are untrue and malicious. The Presidency does not and cannot engage in that type of conduct and activities.
“No official from the Presidency has ever met Mr Venter and none would have any reason to meet with him. Mr Venter should not drag the office of the President into matters that have nothing to do with it,” said Majola.
Meanwhile, Venter also provided documents which prove that he had been receiving money from a lawyer who is linked to Mpumalanga premier, David Mabuza.
He alleged that he had been coached to implicate Phosa of authoring the report that alleged that Mabuza was an apartheid-era spy in exchange for the payment of his legal fees and protection against any criminal and legal action by Phosa.
The spy report, whose authenticity is still to be verified, links Mabuza to a number of alleged spying activities in the then Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga) and Mozambique including the death of ANC underground activist, Portia Shabangu.
While Mabuza has refused to answer the specific allegations contained in the report, citing that the matter was subjudice, he is on record for having denied that he was an apartheid-era spy.
Venter was believed to be Mabuza’s star witness in his pending criminal defamation case against Phosa, which is being investigated by the deputy provincial commissioner of police in North West province, General Jacob Tsumane.
It’s still unclear why a police officer from North West province was assigned a case in Mpumalanga.
In his affidavit, signed before Tsumane, Venter claimed that he informed Mabuza of the alleged plot by Phosa and Elliot in May last year.
Mabuza’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango admitted to African Eye News Services in March this year that Venter had been in contact with Mabuza’s office, but denied having met Mabuza personally.
Venter, however, claims that he personally met with premier Mabuza and another man who was later introduced to him as the premier’s lawyer, and he was promised that his reward would be “protection from Phosa” if he could claim that he overheard Phosa discussing about the report with fellow businessman, Nick Elliot.
“This man’s name is known by Dr Phosa in fact this man used to be a lawyer representing Dr Phosa at some stage if I am not mistaken around 2011. This man asked me many questions and also told me very clearly that this meeting at the premier’s house never took place. I was told that I could always also ask people from SSA (State Security Agency) and NIA (National Intelligence Agency) to help protect me against Dr Phosa as he is very dangerous (according to them) and I could tell them these stories and they would protect me,” claims Venter.
Ziwaphi has independently confirmed that the lawyer did indeed represent Phosa in a civil defamation case that he instituted against SANCO’s Raymond Makamo.
Ziwaphi has also seen mobile phone screen grabs of conversations between the lawyer and Venter, and called the number but it rang unanswered until it went on to voice mail.
The lawyer, whom we later identified as Ian Small-Smith, however, did respond to an SMS enquiry, but did not say anything about Venter’s allegations. Instead he alleged that Phosa had offered Venter a remuneration contract and a house if he reneges on his previous affidavit.
“Mr Venter told me last week that he has a meeting with Mr Phosa and that it was suggested to him that he should renage (sic) on a statement he had previously made to the police. I encouraged him to share this with SAPS immediately because if what Venter was saying was true an offence was possibily (sic) being commiitted (sic),” he said.
He also suggested that Phosa’s interaction with Venter could be criminal.
“If we keep individuals and personalities out of the equation a statewitness (sic), implicating a suspect on oath in a criminal matter has been consulted by the suspect and persuaded to make a contradictory statement. I am sure this will receive the attention it deserves from the authorities,” said Small-Smith.
Phosa, however, responded by saying that Small-Smith was not part of such a meeting and that his arguments were based on hearsay.
“Ask him to produce the agreement between me and Venter he is alleging. He is not telling the truth. I feel sorry for Ian (Small-Smith),” Phosa said.
Meanwhile, Ziwaphi, has seen copies of payments that were allegedly made by Small Smith to Venter’s bank account, as well as SMS communication between the two.
In one of the messages presumably from Small-Smith, he is requesting Venter to send him his bank account number.
“Stuur my jou rek nr date k solank v j iets stuur want ek sukkel met commitments. Jy moet kos het.”
Losely translated, it means “Send me your account number so that, in the meantime, I can send you something because I’m struggling with commitments. You must get food,” reads an SMS from one of the numerous SMS.
Venter’s bank account records show that Small-Smith deposited R2 000 on the 25th of July 2015.
On the 4th August, he paid R10 000, and the last payment of R1 000 was made on the 6th October 2015.
Phosa said that it was unheard of in the legal fraternity that a lawyer would represent a client and pay the client for the services.
“Where have you heard of a lawyer paying for a client’s fees? It is always the other way round,” Phosa said.
Small-Smith did not answer questions on where he got the money to pay for Venter’s legal fees. (See Side Bar).
QUESTIONS TO IAN SMALL-SMITH
Ziwaphi sent an SMS to Ian Small-Smith, requesting him to respond to allegations made against him by Jan Venter.
His initial response was that he was unaware of Venter’s allegations, then we sent him the following questions:
We request you to confirm or deny the following:
- That you, premier David Mabuza and Venter met to discuss about Mathews Phosa’s alleged involvement in authoring the report that implicated premier Mabuza as an apartheid-era spy?
- That you said the cases by Mathews Phosa against Venter would go nowhere?
- That you once represented Phosa as his attorney in a matter?
- That you told Venter that “the meeting never took place at the premier’s house” meaning that he should not tell anyone about it?
- That you gave General Tsumani Venter’s contact number?
- That you made cash payments and also deposited money into Venter’s bank account?
- That you paid for Venter’s legal fees.
- That you are contracted to the Mpumalanga provincial government?
- Where was the money that you were allegedly paying to Venter coming from?
(See his response in the main article).
Mabuza’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, refused to respond to Venter’s allegations against premier Mabuza.
He instead referred Ziwaphi to a media statement released earlier which says nothing about Venter, instead he accuses Phosa of bringing the name of the ANC into disrepute.
“On the matter involving the so-called spy allegations, it remains sub-judice and the Honourable Premier would like to allow the court of law to respectfully take its course.
“It is most unfortunate that there are attempts by Mr Phosa to bring the ANC name into disrepute on the hills of the successful National General Council. The Premier as a responsible leader will not draw himself into nonfactual-based matters,” said Mncwango.
Both Mabuza and Mncwango have refused to say which South African court was hearing the alleged spy case.
Mncwango also refused to confirm or deny if Small-Smith was Mabuza’s attorney.
“We wish to state that whom the premier works with in his private capacity, remains a private matter,”he said.
Phosa laughed off the statement.
“I don’t think they understand what the press conference was about. It was Jan’s (Venter) press conference about his interactions with the premier, which are very disturbing, which have caused serious divisions in the movement already, especially in Mpumalanga. My name is not Jan Venter. They should address themselves to him.”
“Those who smear other comrades cannot be taken seriously when it comes to the unity of the ANC. I’d be very happy if threats to my life could stop, because I don’t want to be victim number 18,” Phosa said.