Friday, May 11, 2012


Mail and Guardian, South Africa

May 11 2012

Mystery of the not-so-missing agent

Man 'disappeared' after recovering R28-million for the Swazi government — but was easy to find

Swaziland's finance minister, Majozi Sithole, claimed earlier this year that agents contracted to recover a R28-million deposit by the Swazi government on an executive jet for King Mswati had "disappeared".

It took the Mail & Guardian just two weeks to track them down in Pretoria.

The Swazi Parliament stopped the purchase of the jet in 2002 after an outcry over its price.

The government then allegedly contracted University of South Africa law professor Frans Whelpton to recover the R28-million already deposited with the supplier, Canadian multinational Bombardier Aerospace.

In 2008 the Swazi media quoted Sithole as saying that Whelpton had recovered the money.

The following year Sithole said Whelpton had persuaded Bombardier not to sue the government for breach of contract and instead invest R100-million in "social upliftment projects" in Swaziland.

Whelpton was then quoted in the Times of Swaziland and the Swazi Observer as saying the money would be held in trust by his Pretoria-based lawyers, Roestoff and Kruse Attorneys.

But in a radio interview in February this year the minister conceded that the money had not materialised, claiming that those responsible for recovering it had "disappeared and did not answer their telephones".

Last week the M&G tracked down Whelpton to his Pretoria residence in Ezra Road, Murrayfield.

It also established his cellphone number.

The M&G visited Whelpton's heavily protected house and posted written questions in his mailbox when no one answered the intercom.

To read the full Mail and Guardian report, click here.


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