Mzansi Celebs

A look into Kwaito star Arthur Mafokate and the dodgy Lottery grant

A company of which Kwaito producer and musician Arthur Mafokate is the sole director was paid over R1-million from a lottery grant for a music festival that never took place.

The star-studded Mzansi Arts and Heritage Festival (Mahefe) was due to be staged at the Abrahamsrust Resort on the banks of the Vaal River in Sasolburg, Free State, on 26 September 2015, but it was cancelled just weeks before.

A media release at the time of the cancellation said the “painful decision” was taken as a result of “sponsorships pulling out”.

The festival was part of a grant from the NLC totalling R9.3-million to the non-profit organisation South African Arts and Development Association (SAADA), which was – and still is – controlled by Mafokate.

The main part of the grant covered a countrywide talent search competition and workshops “for upcoming artists to improve and uplift the standard of musicians in the music industry”, according to a report at the time.

After the Mahefe Festival was cancelled it was “transformed into the Young Artists Gala Night” at the Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg, according to Mafokate.

This, he says in a sworn affidavit, was to give the finalists of the talent search roadshow “an opportunity to showcase their talent to top recording labels and media”.

Mafokate’s company, Roadshow Marketing, submitted an invoice for R1,077,300 to SAADA for services related to the Mahefe Festival. The invoice was dated 21 August 2015, almost a month before the event was due to happen, and less than three weeks before it was cancelled. It included R470,000 for a “sound stage”, R114,000 for “accommodation, travel and per diems”, R57,000 for a “VIP marque” and R114,000 for “TV campaign production”.

Roadshow Marketing also invoiced SAADA for over R3.4-million for the talent search competition.

Both invoices were submitted as annexures in an affidavit by Mafokate in a court case to oppose a preservation order on a guest house called Villa Rosa in Midrand. The guesthouse is owned by 999 Music, a close corporation, of which Mafokate is the only member.

The case, brought by the National Prosecuting Authority, will come before the Pretoria High Court on 29 August for a provisional hearing, and the matter is expected to be postponed to a date still to be decided.

Villa Rosa was frozen in December 2022 after the Special Tribunal heard evidence that money from the grant to SAADA had been used to buy the guest house.

GroundUp previously reported how the SAADA funding was paid in two tranches of R4.65-million each – the first on 28 October 2014, and the second over a year later, on 13 November 2015. Before the first grant, SAADA only had R16,995 in its bank account and before the second, R57,638.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) told the Tribunal that after the second Lottery payment was received, five payments totalling just over R4.5-million were transferred to Roadshow Marketing, of which Mafokate is the sole director. Roadshow then paid R4.4-million into an unspecified “home loan account” in November 2015.

He then made an offer on 20 January 2016, to purchase the Villa Rosa Guest House in Midrand via 999 Music.

The next day the R4.3-million was transferred from the home loan to 999 Music, which in turn transferred amounts of R675,000 and R361,000 to attorneys handling the purchase of the guest house by 999 Music, according to the SIU.

National Lotteries Commission

MAFOKATE STATES HIS CASE

We have several times attempted to get comment from Mafokate, including for this article. He has never responded.

In his affidavit, Mafokate says that the NLC only paid the second tranche of R4.65-million to SAADA on 13 November 2015, almost a year after the first tranche was paid on 28 October 2014.

In fact, he claims, the cost of the talent search was more than the Lottery grant to SAADA. “Expenses in relation to the activities were incurred during the course of the project and not necessarily on receipt of the tranches paid to SAADA by the NLC,” Mafokate says in his affidavit. “SAADA had to rely on service providers who could fund the project pending the receipt of the grant funding.”

He wrote in his affidavit: “I must highlight that while the last tranche was received during November 2015, most of the expenditure for the project had already been incurred with the assistance of Roadshow Marketing and the purpose of that last tranche payment was not that SAADA was to restart and/or continue with activities but rather settle costs attended by the activities. The project had been delivered at the expense of Roadshow Marketing and 999 Music.”

“Without waxing lyrical, all I am saying is that SAADA delivered the project successfully and did not merely ‘through a sleight of hands’ syphon off funds from the NLC.”

LOW KEY

The Mahefe Festival was intended to give the winners of the talent search an opportunity to share a stage with some of South Africa’s top performers. The artists on the star-studded bill included some of SA’s top performers like Chomee, Kelly Khumalo, Mandoza, Zola and Dr Malinga.

After the festival was cancelled, the winning artists performed at a “low-key” event in a pub at the Boulders Lodge in Midrand, according to Brian Mokoena, then the secretary general of SAADA, and at the time the chief operating officer of Mafokate’s 999 Music.

“It was before the Bassline gala event and we wanted to give the winners an opportunity to perform in public,” he says. “I was the only [SAADA] board member to attend, along with a few members of staff, and I bought my own drinks. Other people there were guests of the lodge and customers in the pub,” Mokoena said. “It was a far cry from the big festival we had planned.”

CLOSELY CONNECTED

At the time of the Lottery grant, family members of Mafokate and people who worked for him dominated SAADA’s executive. They included Mafokate as chairman; Brian Mokoena, secretary-general and CEO of 999 Music; Joan Mdihlaba, Treasurer, and a 999 artist; Abigail Sithole, a 999 choreographer; Rita Mafokate, his sister; and, Valentine Mamaile, 999’s driver and photographer and videographer.

A 2016/17 public liability insurance agreement reveals just how closely Mafokate’s companies were linked to SAADA, including sharing premises in Midrand.

The policy lists “the insured” as 999 Music and Roadshow Marketing and states the “extended name” as “South African Arts & Development Association. All three entities were based at the same address in Vorna Valley, Midrand, according to the policy.

In 2020, Mokoena submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the NLC requesting a copy of a report by a firm of attorneys commissioned to investigate SAADA’s funding.

The NLC did not give Mokoena a copy of the report, instead, the NLC’s then-head of legal, Tsietsi Maselwa, sent him a letter summarising some of its findings. These included:

A “conflict of interest in the appointment of one of the companies owned by Mr Mafokate to do business with SAADA, as he was the Chairperson of the SAADA Board. Albeit it was a strategic decision from all the members of the SAADA Board at the time, which you were part of.” (Mokoena denies that the board was consulted about SAADA’s appointment);

“…a disregard for proper corporate governance at SAADA, as there were no minutes taken at all the meetings which would corroborate the assertions of the decisions taken at the said meetings. It was established that you were the secretary-general at the time”; and

“…the relations of the members of SAADA were too personal and most of the members were personally related to Mr Mafokate in one way or another, and as such the personal issues complicated the effective running of the business and having the members [held] accountable.”

In an affidavit he deposed at the Midrand police station on 15 May 2015, Mokoena alleged that besides Lottery money being used for the guest house, vehicles paid for with the grant were used to ferry Mafokate’s artists, including his son, DJ AJ, and kwaito star Chomee.

“Cameras, printers, laptops and furniture bought by SAADA ended up at his guesthouse. As the secretary-general, together with the board, we were sidelined from the activities of the NPO [non-profit organisation]. The chairperson [Mafokate] operated and used the NPO at his own will. Thus the NPO ran as the personal fiefdom of Arthur Mafokate,” Mokoena said in his affidavit.

Mokoena told _GroundUp _that he had confronted Mafokate about the use of Lottery funds for his personal use. “He was very arrogant and told me not to tell him what to do.” After the two fell out, Mokoena says he resigned and left “without a cent”.

PUBLIC MONEY CONTRACTS

Beside the SAADA funding, Mafokate’s company, Roadshow Marketing, has also been the beneficiary of multiple contracts from the NLC.

Between 2019 and 2021, Roadshow was awarded tenders of just over R3.6-million to supply goods and services to the NLC, according to a response to written parliamentary questions. This included media buying, marketing and marketing materials, and video production.

The company was also paid R84,599 for “branded unisex rubber bracelets” and R204,096 to supply branded diaries in 2020/21.

Many of Roadshow Marketing’s clients are government departments or government entities, according to a list of clients on its website.

It was also recently appointed to a Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment panel of service providers for media.

DOUBLE DIPPING

Earlier this month Kingsol Chabalala, Democratic Alliance Gauteng shadow MEC for Arts, accused Mafokate’s 999 Music of being paid twice for organising and staging a 2015 New Year’s Eve party in Joburg.

Chabala claimed the company was paid a total of R1.7 million by the City of Johannesburg and by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation for the party.

In answers to questions, both the City of Johannesburg and the secretary of the Gauteng Legislature confirmed that 999 Music had been retained to organise a public New Year’s Eve party on 31 December 2016.

999 Music was also responsible for Joburg’s 2015 NY Eve party, according to the answers supplied.

Chabalala said, “Artists in Gauteng are struggling to make ends meet, yet one company has received payment twice for rendering the same service”.

-EWN

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