283pp., b/w & colour illus., paperback, Cape Town, 2020
In 2016, VBS Mutual Bank in Limpopo (originally the Venda Building Society), gave President Jacob Zuma a controversial home loan to repay the state for improvements to his Nkandla homestead. The bank, owned by Vele Investments, abruptly went into curatorship in March 2018 due to a R2-billion fraud that had created Vele’s empire.
VBS: A Dream Defrauded explores how suspected mastermind Tshifhiwa Matodzi and his associates took control of VBS, fed ANC patronage networks and operated under a nationalist mantle endorsed by Venda royalty, and exposes the political machinations that guaranteed VBS up to R3.5 billion in unlawful funding from municipalities and other state institutions. The book draws on interviews with VBS insiders and other role-players, as well as documents and forensic evidence collected in the course of two years of investigations.
Journalist Dewald van Rensburg originally broke the story alongside his colleague Sipho Masondo at City Press. His work on the bank's collapse won him the Sikuvile journalism awards for Investigation of the Year, Story of the Year and Journalist of the Year in 2019. Dewald currently works at the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism.