Msomi admits misappropriating Naledi funds

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Former Chairman of the Naledi Theatre Awards, Welcome Msomi, has admitted to misappropriating funds from the Naledi Theatre Awards in 2016, (R150k) and the CEO, Dawn Lindberg (R344,613) in 2017/8.

 

“In June 2016, Msomi offered to loan R1m to Naledi from a family trust fund in Scotland in order to stage the Naledi Theatre Awards event, while waiting for funds from the Lottery (NLDTF),” said Lindberg.

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To free the loan, however, Msomi requested that Lindberg pay an amount of R150k into the account of a lawyer acting for him to facilitate the R1m being released. As he was Acting Chairman of Naledi at the time, Lindberg did not suspect anything untoward, and immediately paid R150K into an account provided by Msomi.

He advised Lindberg they could expect the R1m within 3 days. The R1 million was not forthcoming and eventually, Msomi admitted in writing that due to “technical difficulties” the amount could not be accessed. Lindberg then requested a refund of the R150k which Msomi promised to do. Almost 3 years later, the refund has still not been received.

On 29 December 2017, Msomi again called Lindberg to say that he had been granted an amount of $1,5million from a benefactor in the US who had won the Lottery.

The alleged benefactor had set up the Judy Finchum Foundation in Colorado USA, with a bank account in Sweden. Msomi, feeling bad about the R150K he had never repaid, and wishing to reward Lindberg for the work she had done for Naledi without remuneration, stated that he wished to give Lindberg a “gift” of R1m.

She requested that Msomi deposit this generous gift into the Naledi account so that it went through the correct channels and the due procedure was observed.

This time, Lindberg was requested to deposit an amount of R160k non-resident’s tax into Msomi’s bank account to hasten up the grant being paid.

As a personal friend of more than 30 years, Lindberg did not suspect that Msomi had any ill will, and she, therefore, proceeded with the deposit from her personal bank account. However, Msomi said she had deposited the amount into the wrong account, (one which was dormant due to an overdraft), but that she shouldn’t worry as she could request a recall from the bank. He requested that she should immediately deposit the amount into the correct account, which she did. When attempting the recall, she was told that both accounts were now devoid of funds.

Msomi subsequently asked Lindberg to meet him at his office at Meropa PR agency, as the UN was now requesting a further amount of $35k in order to ensure they were not dealing in drugs or human trafficking. She said this would be impossible to facilitate as neither she nor Naledi had any more funds. Lindberg then asked Msomi to produce the original letter confirming his grant of $1,5million. She recognized the email letter as being part of the commonly used “419 Nigerian scams”, which she pointed out to Msomi. Msomi was seemingly shocked and promised to refund the total amount, which she had him put in writing and sign.

Lindberg reported this to the previous Board of Directors of Naledi the following week. They were appalled and called for Msomi to immediately step down as Chairman, which he had already offered to do.

Kgomotso Christopher was unanimously elected the new Chairperson with immediate effect, and Sello Maake ka Ncube and Maishe Maponya were appointed as Deputy Chairmen.

Lindberg then approached her attorneys (SWVG INC), and they are in possession of Msomi’s signed acknowledgement of debt to Naledi and to Lindberg in her personal capacity, and promises of repayment with dates stipulated. Unfortunately, nothing has materialised more than a year later.

Since then she has not heard further from Msomi until news of the expropriation of R8m from the Living Legends Trust account was revealed to the Living Legends at an urgent meeting called by the Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture in January 2019, at the Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein. This was followed by a full media briefing.

Des and Dawn Lindberg were both appointed “Living Legends” by Minister Nathi Mthethwa in November 2016.

“We are sad and disappointed that a respected veteran of the theatre industry in SA (Msomi was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award from Naledi in 2008), and a personal friend for several decades, could have abused our trust in such a blatant manner,” said Lindberg.

“The Naledi Theatre Awards have instituted a civil claim against Msomi for recovery of its funds, and I have laid criminal and fraud charges in my personal capacity,” concluded Lindberg.

Ismail Mahomed, a former Board member of Naledi, wrote: “The longer South Africans remain silent on corruption the more the sores fester and become cancer that eats all of us.”

For further information please contact the current Executive Board Members of Naledi:
Dr John Kani: Patron
Kgomotso Christopher: Chairperson
Lihan Pretorius: Executive Director/Legal
Maishe Maponya: Deputy Chairman
Sello Maake Ka Ncube: Deputy Chairman
Dawn Lindberg: CEO
Mbongeni Ngema: Director
Des Lindberg: Technical Director
Renos Spanoudes: Chairman of Judging panels

Contact details may be obtained from the Admin Manager:
Kealeboga Tshwenye: 010 900 4581 or info@naleditheatreawards.org.za
or the PR: Chris Avant-Smith: 082 600 5855 / straight2media@gmail.com

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