VBS Mutual Bank.
VBS Mutual Bank.

A helicopter for the Venda king, luxury sea-facing apartments and sports cars: these are the glittering proceeds of what is shaping up to be one of South Africa's costliest and most audacious bank heists.

About R900-million is unaccounted for.

This week suspended Vele Investments executive chairman Maanda Manyatshe, a central figure in the drama around the once-obscure VBS Mutual Bank in Limpopo, made the sensational claim that Vele Investments, which "bought" a controlling stake in the bank, may not have paid a cent for its share.

Having secured its stake in the bank, which was granted a commercial banking licence last year, Vele proceeded to "raid" the bank, splashing out on luxury items, including a helicopter it claimed was for Venda King Toni Ramabulana, himself a 20% shareholder in the bank during the looting spree.

Ramabulana was elevated to the kingship by then-president Jacob Zuma, over another royal claimant, at around the same time that Zuma secured a R7.8-million loan from VBS to pay off his Nkandla debt.

At least part of VBS's largesse was sponsored by illegal deposits made by poor municipalities to the tune about of R1.5-billion.

Read the full story on the Sunday Times