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