ON THE face of it, publishing platform, The Daily Maverick, is a stronghold of independent reporting and South Africa’s (self-appointed) truth investigators. However, look under the hood and the picture is not quite as they would have us all believe, with a series of direct and indirect links to South Africa’s criminal underworld. These connections and cash flows have been heavily guarded and kept secret … until now.
According to a report by the NPO, Forensics For Justice, Branislav “Branko” Brkic’s previous misadventure into publishing, The Maverick Magazine, collapsed in ruins, after a low-cost airline stopped distributing its magazines, free of charge, to passengers. “This took the magazine’s circulation from above 20 000 per month to below 5 000 per month, making it the most expensive print advertising in South Africa.
“The Maverick Magazine advertisers, realising the sudden lack of value, pulled the plug and the wheels came off. When the liquidation was over, investors had lost millions of rand. This included millions of tax-payer funds, lost through an unpaid loan from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC),” reads the report.
On August 23, 2019 the chief executive of the IDC, Tshokolo Nchocho told Parliament that in 2006, IDC provided a funding amount of R4 million to Business Century Publishing, which owned The Maverick Magazine … Only R832 500 was repaid. The company ceased operation and was liquidated in or about October 2008.
Today, Brikic’s new baby, The Daily Maverick, is registered as a private (profit-making) company, which under the guise of altruistic reporting, encourages “members” “join” the platform at a cost of R200 a month. Apart from being able to comment on the published stories, it’s not clear what other benefits a “member” enjoys – if any.
Technology entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig Jr is credited with being The Daily Maverick’s first investor. He also introduced Brkic to Charalambous, whose business connections include the likes of Varejes, and Stemmet, both of whom are closely linked to underworld characters Agliotti and corrupt (now deceased) former chief of police, Selebi.
The Daily Maverick regularly trumpets its moral high ground stance – to anyone who will listen and anyone it can convince to “support” them and the exposure of the “truth” – their version of it anyway.
In some ways, one must admire Daily Maverick’s ability to manipulate human psyche and gullibility, convincing us mere mortals that they are the trusted truth keepers, after all, as ordinary people, we all want to believe that the bad guys can be exposed, caught, and stopped. Except in the case of when the bad guys are feeding and controlling the narrative – the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred.
Take the case of “State Capture” for example. The Daily Maverick regularly indoctrinates its readers that it, and it alone, exposed the corruption that has brought South Africa to its knees. Wrong. They were not alone, and neither were they the first to blow the whistle on the wholesale thievery of the state coffers.
Yet, The Daily Maverick have been able to convince many a donor/funder/patron or two, to part with their wealth to help bolster their “efforts” and shore up a business Brkic tells his supporters is “running on fumes”. Add to that the monthly membership fees of about 16 000 paid-up members and that’s not an insubstantial amount of monthly revenue.
As to why it is anyone would “invest” in a business that is flagging in energy, purportedly on empty, and whose returns are somewhat questionable, is anyone’s guess, although the controlling of a country’s narrative some could argue, is priceless.
In 2018, The Daily Maverick raised a total of $842 700 (about R12.9 million at today’s exchange rates) in funding over two rounds. Their latest funding was raised on November 27, 2018, from a Grant round, according to crunchbase.com.
Some of the funders include Alan Knott-Craig Jr, Oppenheimer family, Wendy Appelbaum and Lauritz “Laurie” Dippenaar.
Perhaps Shakespeare said it best: “truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may, but at the length, truth will out.”
Looking at The Daily Maverick’s direct and indirect underworld links poses even more questions. Herewith are the findings by Forensics For Justice Daily Maverick’s links:
Marcus Steyn – Gupta Lieutenant
Brkic’s co-director in the imploded Maverick Magazine business, Business Century Publishing (Pty) Limited was none other than Marcus Steyn, the now infamous Gupta Lieutenant who also sat on the board of Gupta company Sahara Holdings, along with Duduzane Zuma, Atul and Anil Gupta and another Gupta lieutenant Ashu Chawla. Jointly, they have all been accused of criminal capture of the State and wholesale looting of State-owned entities, to the tune of more than R500 billion.
Co-founder, Stylianos Charalambous
The Daily Maverick co-founder, Charalambous‘ business links include infamous names such as Varejes and Stemmet, both of whom are closely linked to underworld characters Glenn Agliotti and corrupt (now deceased) ex-chief of police Jackie Selebi.
While Stemmet has admitted planting bombs to extort his customers into paying for his security services, Varejes also admitted paying for holidays for a corrupt chief of police and Varejes’s business associate Pamensky is also an infamously close business associate of the Gupta family, Duduzane Zuma and Nazeem Howa.
Charalambous associates call for closer examination:
Varejes first known involvement in infamy, comes in the largesse he provided in the form of a Mauritius family holiday and Christmas stop-overs at his Uvongo Falls holiday home, to the convicted corrupt chief of police Selebi.
When I started sniffing around the relationship between Varejes and Selebi, back in 2001 through 2007, I raised red flags with the Scorpions.Varejes through sleight of hand, kept giving the Scorpions the slip and thereby managed to evade becoming a state witness at the Selebi Trial.
Not long after Varejes found out that I had been sniffing around, Selebi repaid Varejes for his Mauritius family holiday and Christmas stopovers in Uvongo Falls by sending him cheques for the cost of the holidays and stopovers. Needless Selebi benefited largely and repaid his debt using the proceeds of crime.
Apart from his association with self-admitted bomber Stemmet and paid holidays for Selebi, Varejes was also a close associate of a convicted drug trafficker, Agliotti.
Paulus (Paul) Stemmet
Stemmet was to have been a Section 204 state witness in the Selebi corruption trial. In 2009, he signed a series of detailed sworn statements where he admitted his role in a number of serious crimes. In one statement he confessed to planting a bomb at Microsoft’s South African headquarters so that they would increase, instead of decrease their spend on the security services he was providing.
Apart from his admitted links to serious crimes involving Selebi, Stemmet was also a close associate of a convicted drug trafficker, Agliotti. Stemmet confessed to planting 40g of cocaine at Tigon director Gary Porritt’s Pietermaritzburg home in 2000 or 2001.
He made it clear in his sworn statement that he was instructed to plant the cocaine by Varejes, who was an arch-enemy of Porrit, as the latter had exposed Porrit to a criminal investigation by the tax authorities.
Stemmet was to have been a state witness against Varejes. However, the State withdrew the charges in April 2013. A few weeks later, in what seems like a payback for the charges being dropped, Stemmet joined the board of one of Vareje’s companies, Card Holder Location Verification (Pty) Limited, a position he shared with The Daily Maverick co-founder Charalambous.
Varejes employee – Mark Pamensky
Pamensky spent a lot of time testifying at the Zondo Commission. However, his version of what he did or did not do to assist the Gupta underworld was in stark contrast with the reality of other testimony.
Pamensky’s affair with the infamous Gupta family, started when he attended the proceeds-of-crime funded Gupta wedding at Sun City, where a couple of hundred guests were illegally flown into an Air Force base in Pretoria and blue-light convoyed to Sun City.
Pamensky claimed the invitation was sent to his boss Varejes, but he elected to attend the wedding as he was single. Not long after, Pamensky was appointed as a director of Gupta front companies, Shiva Uranium and Oakbay Resources.
Whilst at Oakbay, Pamensky miraculously landed a non-executive director’s position at Eskom where he lost no time in pushing deals that benefited the Gupta’s, to the tune of more than two 2 billion rand. He also regularly shared confidential Eskom information with his Gupta puppet masters, in breach of his fiduciary duty to Eskom.
Brkic did not respond to questions sent to him. We contacted Forensics For Justice for comment, but at the time of writing, we had not received a response. – Research Credit: Forensics For Justice.