Confusion over failed R16m project

Chester Makana

An investor, who wants the R6million he put into a poverty relief project refunded, will now have to wait indefinitely after the Pretoria high court yesterday postponed the case.

Andrew Geldenhuis apparently stepped in after another investor pulled out of the Mhinga Community Trust's Wisani Lodge project.

Geldenhuis and chief Shilungwa Mhinga entered into an agreement.

But the lodge was closed in 2003 after Mhinga and Geldenhuis had a fall-out.

Now Geldenhuis wants his money back.

The lodge, near the Kruger National Park in Limpopo, closed down after the R6million and a R10million loan from the Independent Development Trust were allegedly embezzled.

However, the government says it is unaware of the massive project's collapse.

Geldenhuis claims the trust mismanaged the funds.

Seven Wisani Lodge employees claim they have not been paid for more than two years.

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, which initiated the failed project, Lehlohonolo Masoga said they were not aware that the lodge had closed down.

"Since the matter has now come to our attention, we will investigate," said Masoga.

Mhinga refused to comment, saying the matter was before a court of law.

The matter has caused a rift between the Mhinga traditional council and the royal council.