Chairman of Investec takes long-time friend to court for calling him racist names

Investec CEO Fani Titi has brought a crimen injuria case against former partner Peter-Paul Ngwenya.
Investec CEO Fani Titi has brought a crimen injuria case against former partner Peter-Paul Ngwenya.
Image: Robert Tshabalala

Fani Titi‚ the chairman of specialist banking group Investec‚ told the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Monday that he had feared for his safety when his friend of two decades Peter-Paul Ngwenya threatened and called him a kaf**r.

"The pinnacle concern was safety. It is extremely egregious for someone to call you a k*ff*r. The words portrayed the level of danger that someone of his stature could descend to‚" Titi said.

The politically connected businessman Ngwenya‚ who spent almost five years imprisoned on Robben Island‚ is facing a charge of crimen injuria in the Randburg Magistrate's Court for allegedly using the expletive. The conflict stems from a multimillion-rand deal that went sour.

Ngwenya claims that Titi owes him close to R54-million. Last June Ngwenya called Free State-born Titi a "Qwaqwa k*ff*r" and a "Bantustan boss" in an SMS intended for Titi’s business partner Aqueel Patel.

In the same SMS‚ Ngwenya tells Patel that "you will bleed" and that Titi "will see his mother"‚ which Titi regarded as a threat to his life since Ngwenya knew his mother had died.

Titi told the court that he and Ngwenya had been friends for 20 years and that they had never clashed until they fought over money to which the latter believed he was entitled.

"I valued the friendship we had. Ours was a good friendship. What happened on June 23 was contrary to what I knew of him. It felt reasonable to say that the picture was inconsistent with that of the man I've known‚" Titi said.

He said he had taken Ngwenya's threats seriously‚ especially because of his military background. "If someone with military training makes threats‚ you have to take them seriously."

Titi told the court that when Ngwenya made the threats‚ he had hired security to protect himself.

The case continues.

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