Publication: City Press Issued: Date: 2011-07-03 Reporter: Julian Rademeyer Reporter: Paddy Harper

Weapons built luxury house



City Press



Reporter Julian Rademeyer, Paddy Harper
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Arms deal playboy Fana Hlongwane lives in a mansion in Joburg's exclusive Hyde Park. A Hlongwane company ­acquired it two years ­after he was hired to “promote the reputation and sale” of Hawk and Gripen aircraft to South Africa on behalf of international arms ­manufacturers BAE and Saab.

The 4000 square metre ­property, which was purchased in December 2000 for R5.9 million by Tsebe Properties, was given a municipal valuation in 2007 of R18.2 million.

It is said to boast its own cinema, three dining-rooms, a bedroom the “size of a medium house”, landscaped rose gardens and a classy wine collection.

The house was once described as a playboy mansion on a TV blog by a woman who claimed to know Hlongwane – referring to Playboy boss Hugh Hefner’s TV show Girls of the Playboy ­Mansion.

Hlongwane served as the late defence minister Joe Modise’s adviser from 1995 to 1998 before moving on to the far more lucrative role of arms deal fixer.

It was at this time, according to documents made public recently, that he began receiving payments believed to have totalled at least R200 million through third-party entities.

Tsebe Properties was also linked to the arms deal. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported in 2007 that the company was a shareholder of Osprey Aviation, a South African firm it identified as BAE’s primary agent in the country. One of the founding directors of Tsebe Properties was Osprey’s Richard Charter, formerly the chairperson of BAE Systems SA.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office believed Charter was BAE’s main agent in SA and received more than R300 million in commissions through different entities.

He died in a canoeing accident on the Orange River in 2004.

A year after the Hyde Park property was purchased, Hlongwane acquired, through a shelf company, a luxury beach house in Durban’s exclusive Zimbali coastal resort where properties easily fetch between R10 million and R20 million. At the time it cost R4.83 million.

The two-storey, five-bedroomed house was built in the indigenous forest in the most expensive part of the estate.

Hlongwane’s neighbours included business mogul Mzi Khumalo and former justice minister Penuell Maduna, while supermodel Naomi Campbell spent time in the house across the street from Hlongwane last year.

Workers on the estate told City Press Hlongwane only used the house during the holiday season and for big events on the Durban ­social calendar.

Hlongwane also boasted a personal fleet of luxury cars said to include a Lamborghini Murcielago, a Bentley Azure, two Ferraris and a Porsche Cayenne.

He was described as enjoying a “rap star-like lifestyle” of beautiful woman, cigars and champagne.

Hlongwane’s Ngwane Defence and associated companies were still actively involved in the arms trade.

One of them, Truvelo, recently made headlines over the sale of sniper rifles to Libya.

Hlongwane didn’t respond to messages left for him this week.

- City Press

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With acknowledgements to Julian Rademeyer, Paddy Harper and City Press.

Who said crime doesn't pay?

Unlike Schabir Shaik, Hlongwane never made enemies with the ruling elite.

He is a Ukraine trained attorney age 53 who got a first class pass in one subject called Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick.

If the stick ain't big enough, give half the splodge to the national director of public prosecutions.

It's still worth about R200 million at current monetary values.