Kholofelo Sekepe Maponya bears the name of two legendary men; a status he chooses to maintain and perpetuate. His father and uncle have an unmatched legacy in South African retail, owing to their passion for developing those who share their origins and struggles.
His father, Mr. Matome Maponya, became one of the most prominent businesspeople in the region of Limpopo after coming from an underprivileged background. Making the list in his business empire is the biggest Toyota dealership in the province, a Caltex garage, an abattoir, butcheries, liquor outlets, a hotel, and farms.
Mr. Matome Maponya also founded the National African Farmers Union (NAFU). His uncle, Dr. Richard Maponya, also achieved notable success after moving to Johannesburg at an early age. He transformed a milk delivery service into a trading conglomerate that included several general stores, car dealerships, filling stations, and property.
Given the shoulders on which he stood, Maponya developed a keen eye for entrepreneurship.
Through grit, integrity, and the ability to identify lucrative opportunities, Maponya has gone on to carve out related and purposeful success.
Kholofelo Sekepe Maponya and His Business Interests
Maponya gained his business acumen and love for socio-economic transformation from the close mentorship of his father. During the time under his father’s tutelage, Maponya cultivated a growing interest in retail, property development, and agricultural-based businesses. Maponya was responsible and equipped enough to take over Matome Maponya Investments (Pty) Ltd (MMI) after his father’s passing.
In his later (and controversial) investments, Maponya ventured into poultry farming which led to the acquisition of Afgri Poultry (which today trades as Daybreak Farms). Maponya also seized the immense opportunity to buy out JP Morgan Chase’s stake in SA Home Loans, which was exiting their shareholding.
These were recognisably money-printing deals that managed to pique the interests of institutions such as the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). In fact:
- Maponya’s approach to the IDC for the Daybreak Farms acquisition achieved its aims.
- SA Home Loans was such a good investment decision that to date, it is one of the best-performing assets in the PIC non-listed investment portfolio. Because of Maponya’s involvement and innovations, the company grew four-fold in 9 years.
Unfortunately, Maponya’s contribution was contaminated by the prospects of these opportunities and a disastrous fallout with the PIC.
Controversies Surrounding PIC Investments in Daybreak Farms and SA Home Loans
Given the magnitude of the PIC, as merely the progeny of his ancestors, Maponya’s influence and power were relatively incomparable. This would render any deal with massive potential a highly risky venture for a smaller fish in a large and rewarding pond. This was the case for Maponya in his engagements with the PIC.
The PIC Commission of Enquiry
In 2019, Maponya found himself embroiled in a Judicial Commission of Enquiry by being mentioned with allegations about a matter he had gone to the court to seek reprieve for. The following false and defamatory accusations were levelled against Maponya and his company Matome Maponya Investments (MMI):
- He received too many deals from the PIC.
- He solicited bribes as Facilitation Fees for SA Home Loans.
There was no adverse finding regarding Kholofelo Sekepe Maponya or his deals. Judge Lex Mpati states in the report: “Maponya was not part of the terms of the Commission, and he had taken the matters aired at the Commission to the right forum, the civil courts.”
In addition, the inquiry concluded that transactions between the PIC and MMI amounting to R1.82 billion were too high and too many, being spread over 4 transactions. It was recommended that the PIC consider limiting its funding transactions per person to only two.
Unfortunately, weaknesses in the governance structures at the PIC were painted by the media as a fault on Maponya’s part. There is no need for Maponya to participate in any deceitful behaviour or solicit bribes for his business ventures since entrepreneurship is a skill he gained from an early age, and he has proven to be a highly capable businessman.
The Impact that Disagreements with the PIC had on Maponya and His Interests
A statement made in the PIC commission report is as follows:
“In 2018 the media reported on certain political parties that had called for transparency in the PIC regarding investments in its unlisted portfolio. It was also reported that calls had been made for the PIC to provide detailed information of approximately R70 billion worth of investments made by it in its unlisted investment portfolio in 2017/2018.”
MMI appeared in the list of the 12 entities listed in the media reports. It must be emphasised that “The PIC’s Isibaya Fund’s investment in MMI is an example of multiple investments with a single counterparty” and “there was neither a limit to the cumulative monetary amount of exposure to a single counterparty nor a limit to the number of distinct investments made with the same counterparty.”
Maponya had received funding from the PIC that included:
- R648m of a R1.2bn commitment, plus R200m thereafter for Daybreak.
- R367m for a stake in AFGRI.
- R480m for SA Home Loans transaction.
- R79m that had been drawn down from a R275m facility that had been granted by the PIC for affordable housing developments.
- Magae Makhaya (PTY) Ltd. The facility with Magae Makhaya was cancelled because of default.
The total project amount was R22.37bn, of which Maponya’s exposure was R1.85bn.
The ill-fated fact that the PIC had significant interests in facilities handled by Maponya led to the demise of advancements for all parties involved, including the stakeholders of the intended investments. The PIC’s sudden and destructive hostility toward Maponya made their working relationship untenable for Maponya.
For the most part, these BB-EEE transactions were made to facilitate developmental initiatives that comprise the provision of housing to civil servants who could not afford it on their own. PIC’s inexplicable conduct in the deals is explained in minor detail below.
For the acquisition of Daybreak Farms (formerly Afgri Poultry), MMI approached the IDC for R1.1bn worth of funding. The IDC agreed to R800m debt funding, and the PIC assented to delivering the balance in both equity and debt funding. The PIC also approved a provision of R250m in working capital. However, due to soured relations, the working capital was withheld, resulting in the inability to adequately run Daybreak Farms. Maponya was stripped of Daybreak Farms because of this.
AFGRI Investment Holdings
Maponya put together a consortium in which funding was advanced by the PIC for a 20% stake in Afgri Investment Holdings (Afgri). Maponya’s consortium was initially fulfilling its funding obligations to the PIC through dividends received from Afgri. But two major events occurred that ruined this great endeavour:
- Afgri’s mandate was changed from an operational dividend-paying company into an investment portfolio-building entity, which killed the business case of Afgri.
- Afgri needed further equity injection from shareholders, a provision Maponya’s funding agreement with the PIC accounted for. This equity call came when the PIC and Maponya were in their dispute, and therefore the management of the PIC refused to honour the agreement of funding equity injection calls. This caused Maponya’s consortium’s equity in Afgri to be diluted. Furthermore, bad decisions being made at Afgri against the better judgement of Maponya led to his being unable to service the funding obligations for the Afgri acquisition. Maponya’s consortium proposed the PIC settle the Afgri funding structure by the consortium surrendering its shareholding in Afgri in favour of the PIC as the final settlement of the funding. The deal was agreed to but has yet to be finalized.
SA Home Loans (SAHL)
As an experienced property developer, Maponya identified a gap in the housing fund market for civil servants in South Africa, who were unofficially referred to as the “missing middle.” He employed several people including experts in the residential funding market to develop a feasible product that would suit the unique needs of this subsection of the community. He eventually negotiated with JP Morgan to acquire their 50% shareholding of SAHL. SA Home Loans was a transaction also funded by the PIC using Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) money.
There was a set of Facility Agreements, approved and signed by both parties. These agreements require an arrangement fee to be paid to PIC/GEPF and there was an agreement between PIC and MMI for the Arrangement fee to be paid to MMI. This initiation cost covered, product design, holding costs on properties, legal fees paid, consultant fees, travel costs, etc. that MMI needed to recover. SAHL declared that the R45 million due to MMI was paid over to the PIC (as per funding agreements) and the PIC was meant to pay it to MMI. The transfer did not happen. MMI has gone the legal route in recovering these monies.
Magae Makhaya Housing (RF) (Pty) Ltd (MMH)
The Magae Makhaya Housing (Pty) Ltd (MMH) was an idea that was to complement the SA Home Loans deal. MMH was to raise a fund to develop low-cost housing targeted at government employees such as nurses, police officers, and teachers. These public servants would get special housing loans from SA Home Loans and acquire homes from MMH development. The plan was for GEPF to provide two funds, one for R500 million to do land acquisitions, and another for R1.5bn (the Dev Fund) to fund these housing developments. GEPF, through the PIC, took to the idea.
Under R200 million was disbursed for land acquisitions, but the balance and the entirety of the Dev Fund were withheld as the disagreements with the PIC had commenced. The Dev Fund was diverted from Maponya and acquired lands have stayed vacant, with some in danger of land invasions.
Forging a Legacy: Kholofelo Sekepe Maponya’s Inspirational Journey
A close, superficial, and objective interrogation of the estranged relationship between Maponya and the PIC is owing to unscrupulous actions on the behalf of PIC concerning not fulfilling their agreed-upon obligations. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned a High Court decision that was in favour of the PIC, after which the PIC took the case to the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court refused to hear the matter, thereby upholding the SCA ruling, and solidifying Maponya’s innocence concerning his arrangements with the PIC.
The PIC seemed determined to distract from its management and governance challenges by tarnishing the reputation of a man who sought to meaningfully contribute to his country. Maponya, a man with a public track record that spans generations, only seeks to uphold a derivative legacy that is built entirely upon identifying with and uplifting those in need.