Nuclearisation of Africa - Conference in pictures
From left: Karel Potgieter, Bastiat Viljoen and his brother Dane, all executive directors of Randlord Capital, are now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Carletonville police on the far West Rand after being implicated in theft at the ransacked number 5 shaft. From left: Karel Potgieter, Bastiat Viljoen and his brother Dane, all executive directors of Randlord Capital, are now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Carletonville police on the far West Rand after being implicated in theft at the ransacked number 5 shaft. Boxer Ngwenya/Indpendent Media

Blyvoor Gold directors accused of R10m theft

Written by  Sheree Bega Sunday, 18 December 2016 05:01
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Johannesburg - Three former directors of Blyvoor Gold who were meant to revive the troubled Blyvoor gold mine have been described as the alleged “masterminds” behind the staggering R10 million theft of valuable mining equipment.

Bastiat Viljoen, his brother Dane and their partner Karel Potgieter, all executive directors of Randlord Capital, are now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Carletonville police on the far West Rand.

They were removed as directors of Blyvoor Gold on November 29. The trio have been implicated in the theft at the ransacked 5 shaft, which could run as high as R30m, including a 90mm winder rope worth more than R2m, numerous humble hooks with a value over of more than R3m, and sheave wheels valued at more than R1m each, among others.

Their former partners, Richard Floyd and mining entrepreneur Peter Skeat, who helped finance Randlord, state in a recent “request for assistance brochure” to the public that the Viljoen brothers and Potgieter were “caught colluding with a security company (Interactive Security) and a scrap dealer” to remove highly valued assets from the mine and selling these for cash.

“This illegal and shocking theft has been exposed, stopped, the security company removed, the individuals involved removed from their responsibilities and all steps taken to make good the damage. The modus operandi was for trusted individuals to deviously remove these valuable assets under cover of darkness, cut the assets into pieces and then re-qualify these assets as scrap and sell them for cash, pocketing the proceeds and so hurting the Blyvoor restart endeavour"

The Viljoen brothers and Potgieter were the “masterminds behind a security breach and those responsible for receiving the funds In total, various capital assets with a new replacement value of R10m have been stolen from the mine in recent months.”

Both Viljoen and his older brother, fellow executive director Bastiat, 31, are graduates of New York University. Viljoen worked as an intern at the Goldman Sachs Group in the US. Potgieter is a former employee of Village Main.

In 2012, DRDGold sold Blyvoor, a premier gold mine, to Village Main Reef, which declared bankruptcy just over a year later. In December 2014, Randlord Capital acquired the Blyvoor metallurgical plant from the joint provisional liquidators and a year later bought up six tailings storage facilities.

Skeat told the Saturday Star this week that the cost of the theft could run as high as R30m. “They (the Viljoens and Potgieter) are saying they stole scrap, but they’re not addressing the issue that they cut big valuable assets down into scrap.”

Chris Pretorius, of Knights Protection Services, who opened the criminal case, said: “They contacted scrap metal dealers and told them to come in. They would sell a sheave wheel, valued at R2m, for R10000. They did the unthinkable; it’s like selling a Rolls-Royce for R10000.”

Nantes Rykaart, chief executive of Interactive Security, said it had never dealt with the Skeat Mining group. “Towards the middle of 2016 Randlord Capital was having difficulty paying our monthly invoice. During many meetings, it was agreed that Interactive Security would reduce the manpower and reduce the security invoice monthly. This happened several times during the next few months.”

But Floyd responded: “Interactive was responsible for the security of the properties. They failed to deliver this service, as evidenced by the asset thefts of about R10m. Against this, and while attempting to quantify our losses, certain payments were temporarily withheld.”

Mariette Liefferink, of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, said the saga “reminds one of the reckless manner in which the Aurora directors managed the Pamodzi gold mine The allegations come at a most inopportune time. It may not only place the future of Blyvoor Gold in jeopardy but also the proposed prospects of an improvement in the socio-economic and environmental situation at Blyvoor.

“The winding-up of Blyvoor and the failure by the competent authorities to enforce the 'polluter pays principle’ has resulted in the externalisation of the impacts and costs to the Merafong municipality, a mute environment, local communities, neighbouring mines and future generations.”

But Skeat said substantial progress had been made to restart the mine and he hoped to have a mining licence in hand by March. “The assets have been acquired, the zama-zamas removed, the damage to the mine is in the process of being repaired, security on the mine is being reinstated, and plans for the raising of the capital of both projects is substantially in progress.

“Blyvoor has a wonderful future ahead and all the makings of success. The mine's already built, it's got good assets, and there's a lot of gold for mining for the next 40 years.”

His partners are raising the R1bn needed to “take Blyvoor up from nothing”. Floyd added: “We’ve got a community looking to us to guide them out of a desperate situation, environmentally, with sewage in the street, (mine) dust and no water. We’ve got the eyes of 10000 people looking to us. We can’t afford to be sidetracked by this (theft).”

Published in Saturday Star




Residents left in the dark over AMD treatment

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has been accused of “authorising pollution”, after its water quality tests for its acid mine drainage (AMD) plants in the Witwatersrand surpassed the government’s own water resource quality objectives.

From Gold Town to Ghost Town

Blyvooruitzicht, a once prosperous mine town, has become a haven for criminals. ...

Blyvoor Gold directors accused of R10m theft

Johannesburg - Three former directors of Blyvoor Gold who were meant to revive t...


Lauded for research on SA acid mine drainage

The launch of Acid mine drainage in South Africa: Development actors, policy impacts and broader implications, by Suvania Naidoo, took place on 10 February 2017. The book has proven to be a timely publication because of the incipient water crisis in South Africa. The event was hosted by Unisa’s Department of Development Studies in the College of Human Sciences. The guests were welcomed by the chair of the department, Prof Gretchen du Plessis, who expressed that “development studies is an ever-changing discipline and is a space where different issues converge”. She further stated that the book fills a void in our knowledge about acid mine drainage (AMD) and that the publication is “an example of hard work which results in big achievements”.   This publication is the culmination of the findings of the research conducted for Naidoo’s master’s dissertation. The book focuses on assessing the responses of the various development actors involved in addressing the issues of AMD, and its socio-economic and developmental implications. Prof Dirk Kotzé, from the Department of Political Sciences at Unisa and programme director for the event, said that AMD research is generally analysed from highly technical, engineering, and natural science perspectives. He also said that the purpose of the publication was to identify and explain the different conceptual understandings of AMD and its implications. Kotzé acclaimed the publication as being one of the few cases where a social science approach successfully ventures into the domain of the natural sciences.   Naidoo uses sustainable development and, specifically, environmental sustainability as the departure for this research, which is directly linked to water and food security. She said the book concentrates on AMD as “a phenomenon in water management in South Africa and its potential impact on sustainable development, as well as mining and the quality of water in South Africa and the impacts of AMD”.   She emphasised that one of the most important contributions of her research is conceptual in nature and said “the manner in which AMD is defined determines how it is assessed as a water management, environmental, and social problem. It also means that the response to AMD is determined by how it is defined by government”. Naidoo highlighted that, while the South African government has made strong and valuable attempts to address the issues surrounding AMD, the conclusions of her research showed that there was no clear indication in policy as to what the socio-economic impacts caused by AMD are, and how they should be responded to.   Keynote speaker, Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, and a leading activist in this field, provided a detailed account of the historic and contemporary context of AMD. She alerted the audience to a significant fact that AMD dates as far back as 1903. She used a more current example to illustrate the impact of AMD on South Africa’s water systems by explaining how the problem of AMD in the West Rand Basin, Gauteng, was left untreated for almost 10 years. She said the immediate short-term treatment of AMD only commenced in 2012 and said that a feasibility study for the long-term treatment of this phenomenon was conducted in 2013 at a cost of R25m. Liefferink said that the long-term treatment plan for AMD was launched on 18 May 2016 but would only be implemented by 2020. She warned that this might have a significant impact on water security. She stressed that academics who employ their research for the benefit of society should be applauded and endorsed Naidoo’s publication as having a definite economic and social value impact.   Zachary Romano, editor at Springer, New York, via a pre-recorded video, said: “Suvania’s research was a perfect candidate for our SpringerBriefs edition, in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment at Springer Nature. This series is targeted at publishing interdisciplinary case-studies that speaks to larger issues, particularly from young researchers with promising careers. As South Africa’s water systems are under much stress from climate change and pollution already, this is a timely document and we are confident that many academics and professionals will find it to be a great resource”. He also said that the book proposal was reviewed by several leaders in the field, all of whom were impressed by the final product. He further mentioned that the publisher is looking forward to future collaborative work with Naidoo.   The event was extremely well-attended by key stakeholders and experts in this field.

Truth of the dust that brings death

  A new hard-hitting report from Harvard Law School details how South Africa has failed to meet its human rights obligations concerning gold mining in and around Joburg. Bonnie Docherty, who led the research, spoke to Sheree Bega

Harvard Report: The Cost of Gold

A report has been published by the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic titled "The Cost of Gold: Environmental, Health, and Human Rights Consequences of Gold Mining in South Africa’s West and Central Rand.   The reports states, "The complex web of responsible government agencies and repeated legislative changes to that organizational structure have impeded the development of a coordinated plan to deal with the negative effects of mining. The limited scope of action, inadequate attention to at-risk communities, and insufficient consideration of environmental concerns have undermined the completeness of any response."

SA hasn't protected residents from gold mine pollution: Harvard report

JOHANNESBURG South Africa has failed to protect residents affected by pollution from contaminated water and mine dumps over more than 130 years of gold mining near Johannesburg, an independent investigation by the Harvard Law School said.


Rand Water tightens the taps in Gauteng

In the Midvaal suburb where Sipho Mosai lives, the gardens are lush and green because the sprinklers run all day. There's little sense of alarm at the fast-declining water levels in the Vaal water system after which the suburb is named.

Objection: Sedibelo Platinum Mine Water Use Licence

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment has objected to the Water Use Licen...

Corruption seeps into South Africa’s R26 billion water project: report

Water affairs and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane is in the cross-hairs of...