Controversial billionaire Roux Shabangu went from being a mealie meal salesman to one of the country's youngest property moguls.
The 36-year-old, who has been hogging the headlines over a R500-million government rental deal, says it all started the day he changed his name.
His father, Johannes "JB" Shabangu, told his children they would inherit property when he died - with the exception of the son called Ngwane. Instead, the boy was asked to change his name to Roux, which he did while he was in matric. And Johannes, who didn't explain why he wanted the change, told his son it would make him millions one day.
Today, Shabangu jnr owns a string of shopping malls worth billions of rands.
The businessman who stands to make a fortune from controversial leasing deals with the police is himself the target of a police investigation into millions of rands that went missing from the Land Bank.
Roux Shabangu, the owner of Roux Property Fund, has been implicated in a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forensic audit in connection with R10-million "irregularly" paid to him from the bank's contentious AgriBEE fund. The Hawks are investigating money paid to him and others from the Land Bank for projects for which there are few or no records.
The department denies that Shabangu had a mandate at any stage to buy land for the government.
Yet it is the furore following his landing of the R500-million contract last year for the lease of an 18-storey office block in Pretoria's CBD to the South African Police Service that he is probably best known for.
The deal is the subject of two investigations, one by the public protector, and the second as part of a broader probe by the Special Investigating Unit into irregular government leases.
He revealed he was once a light-heavyweight boxer, with Dingaan Thobela - the "Rose of Soweto" - a regular sparring partner in the '90s.
"Boxing taught me discipline, honesty and to be sharp on your feet," said the father of five.
Now the former fighter runs Roux Property Development Africa from plush offices in Irene, Pretoria.
His weekend retreat is a 28-bedroom house in Mpumalanga, worth about R20-million.
The house, on a 1200ha farm, boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a lapa that can accommodate 100 people and garages for 12 vehicles.
Shabangu said the fact that he had never been knocked out in his 21 fights had helped to make him a shrewd businessman.
Boxing also gave him a ticket to the world of business. "I wanted to raise money, and boxing was the quickest way to do it without stealing from anyone," he said.
Shabangu grew up in rural Dennilton, in Mpumalanga, but having 20 siblings meant he was forced to earn his keep.
His father, who had children by five wives, gave each child a plot of land to cultivate while they were still in school in an attempt to teach them to become independent.
After matriculating in 1993, Shabangu stayed at the YMCA in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, while training with Thobela's manager and trainer, Norman Hlabane.
His first business venture was a mealie meal distribution outlet in Kwaggafontein.
When he was 22, the monthly turnover from his mealie meal business was R4-million, which included a net profit of between R1.2- and R1.4-million.
"To be honest, I made a fortune selling mealie meal."
Armed with cash, he started snapping up land for development, and soon built his first shopping mall, Matsamo Plaza in Mpumalanga, for R40-million.
He has built 10 other shopping malls, including the R320-million Jabulani Mall in Soweto and the R300-million Tsakane Mall near Brakpan.
Other malls under construction include:
- The R110-million Modjadji Mall in Limpopo; and
- The R1.5-billion Mbabane City Mall in Swaziland, which will also boast a casino and hotel.
A staunch Jehovah's Witness, I DOUBT THAT........WITH 5 WIVES!!!! Shabangu has plans to build a training centre for welders and boilermakers in President Jacob Zuma's village, Nkandla, saying it was a token of appreciation "for having a leader like Zuma, who was able to unite the nation".
Admitting that he knew Zuma well, Shabangu was reluctant to elaborate on this friendship, simply saying: "But this has nothing to do with Zuma. I am not going to go into that.
"I am not going to deny that I am politically connected, because one day you are going to see me at a function with ministers."
But Shabangu vehemently denied signing the R500-million lease with the police commissioner, General Bheki Cele.
"I will pay a million rand to anyone if they can prove that I signed a lease with Bheki Cele."
How Cele drove the deal with Roux Shabangu
September 30 : Cele issues a directive that he must approve any procurements over R500000.
March 23 2010: He repeats the directive.
March 24 : Police procurement head Lt-Gen Hamilton Hlela says Cele ordered him in a Boksburg parking lot to move the police top brass to a new building in Pretoria, and to expect a call from the owner. Roux Shabangu calls Hlela to arrange an appointment.
March 26 : Shabangu takes Hlela for a site inspection of Sanlam Middestad, presenting himself as the owner. No public works officials are present. Later, Lt-Gen Bonang Mgwenya and Lt-Gen Julius Molefe - officials in Cele's office - inform Hlela that Cele wants police units moved to Shabangu's building immediately.
March 31 : Shabangu gives a presentation to police supply chain managers. Further meetings and a site inspection follow on April 1 and 9. No public works officials are present.
April 22 : Shabangu writes a letter to the SAPS, confirming two floors of Sanlam Middestad will be made available immediately if Roux Properties receives written confirmation that SAPS will lease the whole building for 10 years.
May 3: Police supply-chain management boss Lt-Gen Matthews Siwundla informs public works that Cele wants police units and top brass in Sanlam Middestad - the first time police have approached public works about the matter.
May 10: Cele approves and signs a memo authorising funds for Sanlam Middestad. A needs assessment for the whole building is attached.
May 14: Hlela and two generals meet public works acting director-general Sam Vukela. Hlela hands Vukela a letter confirming Cele urgently wants office space in Shabangu's building for the World Cup in June. Vukela signs a note agreeing the need is urgent, so no tender is needed.
June 4: Public works sends Shabangu an approval letter to lease his building for 10 years at R2.7-million a month.
June 11: Start of World Cup.
July 5: Shabangu does a presentation on his building to Cele. An extra 20% of space worth R500 000/month is agreed. No public works officials are present.
July 6: Shabangu buys the building for R220-million.
July 11: World Cup ends. No one has moved into the building.
July 13: Shabangu submits a signed lease to public works with handwritten amendments reflecting the inflated rentals.
July 20: Public works official signs Shabangu's lease.
July 22: Another official writes to Shabangu to rectify the inflated rentals.
July 26: SAPS sends public works its revised needs assessment reflecting the inflated rentals, signed by Cele. Public works writes a letter to funders, stating all procurement processes were complied with.
August 1: Sunday Times reporters Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter expose the shady deal.
August 2: A complaint against Cele is laid with the public protector.
August 3: Cele calls a press conference and insists he did not clinch a deal with Shabangu but merely signed a needs assessment that public works used to procure the building.
August 4: Wa Afrika is arrested without a warrant at Avusa headquarters in Rosebank, Johannesburg, for what police claim is a fraudulent letter of resignation from Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza to President Jacob Zuma. Wa Afrika's house is searched without any search warrant and his computer, notebooks, files and a cellphone are seized.
August 5: The Public Protector launches an investigation into the deal, joined later by the Special Investigating Unit.
August 5: Prosecutor says there is insufficient evidence to prosecute.
August 6: After Wa Afrika spends a night being interrogated by police in Mpumalanga, the Sunday Times brings an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court. Judge Johan Kruger orders his release with these words: ''One minute spent in custody is one minute too much."
August 16: Public works minister Geoff Doidge suspends the lease, based on a damning legal opinion by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
September 7: The National Prosecuting Authority provisionally withdraws the charges against Wa Afrika.
October 31: President Jacob Zuma fires Doidge, replacing him with Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde.
November 22: Public works receives a second legal opinion, by senior counsel Pat Ellis, which says the lease is unlawful. Public works tells funders the lease will be honoured.
December 7: Mahlangu-Nkabinde reinstates the lease. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says Cele has been "vindicated".
January 21 2011: Sanlam Middestad is registered in the name of Roux Property Fund. In a written submission, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan tells the public protector the lease must be reviewed, and this could include initiating "criminal prosecution". He stresses the lease should not have been signed with Shabangu before he had actually bought the building.
February 22: Public Protector Thuli Madonsela releases her report which finds Cele guilty of maladministration as well as "improper and unlawful" conduct.
February 24: Cele calls another press conference and tries to pass the buck, blaming public works and his former deputy, Hlela, who was a key witness in the public protector's and SIU investigation.