President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward is being sued for R1.5 million for allegedly failing to pay a Durban wedding co-ordinating company which planned his lavish nuptials at Tala Game Reserve last year.
Edward Zuma married Phumelele Shange in October and their wedding reception for 500 guests was held at the Tala Game Reserve near Camperdown.
The wedding and reception, which was featured on television lifestyle show Top Billing, was attended by the president, his wives as well as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele, singer Yvonne Chaka-Chaka and businessman Kenny Kunene among others.
According to a report on the wedding, the ceremony was held in a villa which was decorated in white, with shades of green.
The reception was held in a huge marquee, which was draped in white and shades of pink and large chandeliers and bouquets hung from the roof. Every table had a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey and Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, and Allée Bleue red wine.
On Monday an application brought against Zuma by the Glenwood-based company, Functions for Africa CC, came before Durban High Court Judge Kevin Swain.
There was no appearance by Zuma or his legal representatives in court. The court ordered that the case be adjourned to later this month and Zuma was to pay the costs of the adjournment.
According to court papers, the company is demanding payment of just over R1.5m, plus interest of 15.5 percent a year from the date of demand in November and the costs of the application.
Functions for Africa sole member Paul Mann said in an affidavit that Edward Zuma and his wife had approached him to “arrange and facilitate their wedding”.
Mann had sent a quotation of R2.7m for his company’s services in April last year to the couple. The figure was reduced to R2.5m and Zuma agreed to the terms and conditions in July.
Mann said his company normally asked for 80 percent of the amount as a deposit, but Zuma had only paid R1m. “Unfortunately and up to the date of the wedding, the respondent had not paid the full 80 percent deposit.”
He said that, despite not having the full deposit, he went ahead with the wedding because he was asked not to embarrass the couple.
“Due to the incessant pleading we went on with the wedding. His bride pleaded with me to continue with the wedding so as to not embarrass or inconvenience them.”
He said Zuma sent SMSes to him before the wedding in which he promised to pay, but he stopped taking calls or answering SMSes after the wedding.
An SMS sent by Zuma in September last year, the contents of which was annexed to the court papers, said “Brother Paul plis (sic) call all suppliers for me to address them at your offices as I have a delay in foreign funds. I know the stress I have injected (sic) in you is uncalled for but I am trying to do all on my own…”
A second SMS sent to Mann on October 6, a day before the wedding, states, “They have agreed to release today I am negotiating that they do it now.”
Mann said when he received no payment after the wedding, his attorney, David Vlcek, issued a letter of demand in November last year and Zuma’s attorneys SP Mncwango and Associates responded in December acknowledging the outstanding amount.
Mann also received another SMS from Zuma which said, “I don’t deny owing money, but it’s a matter of when to pay…”
The letter from Zuma’s attorney states: “Our client does not dispute that he owes an amount of R1.5m. He, therefore, instructed us to re-negotiate the terms of payment. Kindly give him until the end of January 2012. Our client will settle in full.”
Mann said he acceded to Zuma’s request and his attorney sent a letter confirming that payment should be made by midnight on January 31.
He said his company was now under severe financial pressure.
“There are demands being made by suppliers which have arisen from the respondent’s shocking conduct.”
When contacted for comment on Monday, Zuma asked who had given his cellphone number to the reporter from The Mercury and ended the call.
He also did not respond to a request for comment sent via SMS.
Zuma’s attorney, SP Mncwango, said he did not want to comment on the matter.
It has also been reported recently that Zuma is a silent partner in a business owned by bribery and fraud-accused Thoshan Panday.
KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major-General Johan Booysen reportedly told the Sunday Tribune in March this year that Zuma had met him to persuade him to get R15m allegedly owed to Panday by the police released. The funds were frozen because Panday was being investigated for a R60m police tender accommodation scam.
Zuma denied that he had asked for the money to be released and said he had merely asked Booysen if Panday was being investigated as he wanted to invest in his (Panday’s) business.