Julius Malema, the controversial ANC Youth League leader, paid R78 000 in cash for a three-day frolic with five friends at the "colonial" and ultra-luxurious five-star Royal Malewane next to the Kruger National Park.
His luxury adventure occured shortly before his re-election as ANCYL president three week's ago in an election campaign which saw him repeatedly sell himself as a champion of the poor.
The news comes on the heels of reports that he has also recently enjoyed a fine holiday in Italy and that he has flattened a R3.6m Bedfordview home to build another one.
Malema and the management of the Royal Malewane, located in the famous private Thornybush Game Reserve adjoining the Kruger National Park, refused to comment on the visit.
However, Media24 Investigations has confirmed with five sources with direct knowledge that the Malema visit occured. Three sources confirmed that the bill was settled in cash.
Media24 Investigations understands Malema and his group of friends were invited by a therapist who works at the luxury spa at the lodge.
The therapist, whose name is known to Media24 Investigations, is also a girlfriend of one of Malema's close friends.
Employees of the lodge get free nights there as part of their benefits and Malema was invited to spend a night for free. He paid for himself and his five friends to stay on for three nights altogether.
It is uncertain how many of the people in his group a free night remained.
Lodge insiders said the Malema entourage did "the normal tourist things", such game drives, luxury picnics and spa treatments.
The advertised cost per person per night sharing is almost R11 000.
When Malema settled the bill on behalf of the group, the administrative staff’s eyes widened when he presented them with R78 000 in cash.
Malema himself was tight-lipped. Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said he would not talk to the media and that claims that the trip occured were lies.
"They are all liars,” he said. He said he had spoken to Malema about the matter and that he had declined to comment to Media24 Investigations.
Shivambu then told our reporter "fuck you" three times before finally telling him to "fuck off" (see transcript below).
Juan Pinto, director and general manager of the Royal Malewane, said the lodge’s official policy was not to comment on any guests.
When asked about the account which was settled in cash, he said any questions about Malema had to be asked of Malema.
According to the lodge's advertising material, Malewane is a Big Five destination, boasting a French Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Blazon Award for its restaurant.
The spa offers a variety of treatments and guests can view wildlife at watering holes just metres away from where they are enjoying their treatment.
A transcript of the telephone conversation between reporter Jacques Dommisse (JD) and ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu (FS) requesting comment from Malema.
ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu
JD: So, why did you put the phone down?
JD: Why did you put the phone down?
FS: Hey man. You are doing a wild goose chase. I say that if you want to go ahead and write, go ahead and write because he won't speak to you. It never happened, okay? He [Malema] doesn’t want to talk to you.
JD: Why will you not let me speak to Malema?
FS: I said he doesn’t want to. Why must he speak to you? He has no obligation to speak to you.
JD: Because he is a politician.
FS: Yes, but I said no. You cannot force people to speak to you.
JD: I don’t understand?
FS: He will not speak to you. You cannot force someone to speak to you if they do not want to speak to you. He does not want to speak to you. I have just spoken to him.
JD: How do you know he doesn’t want to speak to me?
FS: Because I just spoke to him now.
JD: How do you mean you have just spoken with him? I don’t understand.
FS: Fuck you.
JD: Say again?
FS: I said: “Fuck you”
JD: Are you swearing at me?
JD: Why are you doing that?
FS: What is your problem?
JD: I have no problem.
FS: Fuck you. Fuck off, ok.
JD: Oh, so you now said it for the fourth time?
JD: Can you please give me a contact number for Julius Malema?
FS: I don’t want.
JD. Ok. Thank-you. Goodbye.
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION