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‘I did not run from the Court’ – Van Niekerk

By Bahle Gama

One of Ecsponent’s former Directors, Dave Van Niekerk, says he did not flee the country when a court order was granted to ground him and his partner.

In a press statement that the Eswatini Daily News has seen, Van Niekerk stated that the court application to restrict him and Edwin Soonius from leaving the country came to his attention on the morning of August 1 when he became aware of an article that appeared in one of the local papers in Eswatini. 

He claimed that they were neither served with a copy of the application nor the court order that was granted by the High Court to restrict their exit.

“I was in Eswatini on July 31 for a meeting. I flew back to the Republic of South Africa on the same day. After becoming aware of the application and the order granted by the Court, our attorneys on record obtained a copy of the application from the Court and filed a notice of
intention to oppose,” he stated.

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The former director stated that he was aware that on August 2, their attorney went to Court where an order was made for the filing of a report regarding the order having been sent to the police and the immigration offices as he had left the country.

Van Niekerk stated that there was simply no basis for the allegations which he deemed as false and factually incorrect made against him and the second respondent (Soonius) that they were involved in Ecsponent Limited Swaziland losing E340 million of investors’ monies.

He said the order should never be granted but should be discharged and the company sanctioned for having brought the application. Referring to a founding affidavit deposed by Executive Officer Bonginkhosi Max Mkhonza in support of the application brought ex parte as a matter of urgency, Van Niekerk stated that the application had pertinent facts that had not been disclosed to the Court.

“No disclosure of any facts is made in the founding affidavit at all in support of the false allegation that the founders or previous directors of the Applicant ’embezzled’ a sum over E340 million from the Applicant, or indeed on what basis the second respondent and I are liable to the applicant and/or facts upon which the intended legal claim against us will be based in respect of the alleged loss of E340 million,” he stated.

Van Niekerk stated that he was advised that for applications of this nature, the company is duty-bound to make full and frank disclosure to the court which the company has allegedly failed to do so.

“To the contrary, the applicant (Ecsponent Limited Swaziland) has misled the court in making false and unsubstantiated allegations seeking far-reaching relief to detain me and Soonious in Eswatini pending finalisation of an action to be launched by the applicant against me and the second respondent,” he stated.

According to the former director, the company’s version of a forensic investigation was launched by directors of the MHMK Group Limited Mauritius in 2020 on an unrelated company, the results of which were not disclosed to the court, nor is an explanation given as to why no action has been instituted against him in this respect.

I was never involved with Ecsponent

Van Niekerk has denied any involvement in the Ecsponent Group of companies and its holding company Ecsponent Limited.

He stated that it was peculiarly that he has been cited in the application even though he was neither a director nor part of the management of the company “nor was I in any way involved in the Ecsponent Group of companies and its holding company Ecsponent Limited, now Afristrat Limited.”

He pointed the finger at the directors of the MHMK Group Limited which he said now holds 100 per cent of the shares. According to Van Niekerk, Executive Officer Mkhonza concedes that he was not a director of the company, instead was one in a South African company called VSS Financial Services and referred to an audit report which presumably is the Forensic Findings Reports which he alleges received the funds.

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“He then alleges that I was the ultimate beneficiary of the funds. There are however no facts to support these allegations at all. The Forensic Findings Report makes no mention of any funds having been paid by the applicant to VSS at all. Furthermore, the issues addressed in the said report are not related or pertain to the applicant at all,” Van Niekerk stated.

He further elaborated that the issues raised in the said report have been investigated by the liquidators of VSS who have held a commission of inquiry into the affairs of VSS and with whom he has co-operated. 

“VSS was the Fintech backbone of the MyBucks Group. VSS developed proprietary lending, banking, and Artificial Intelligence services and technology for the group. These IT systems won numerous awards in Germany and Luxembourg. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of MyBucks S.A. and provided the MyBucks group information technology and related administrative services and had nothing at all to do with the applicant. The intellectual property and technology of VSS in which VSS expended substantial investment has since the liquidation of VSS all but disappeared. The liquidators are investigating how this technology landed in the hands of Finclusion (an MHMK subsidiary),” he stated.

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