Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

Robert Gumede has sold his hundred millionth Telkom public telephone card.

And this is a fraction of the target the IT billionaire and chairman of Guma Smart Card Technologies wants to reach.

"The aim is to produce a billion and I think we are geared for it," Gumede said at a celebration to thank his 200 staff.

"Without such dedicated staff we could not have made it and I have to continuously thank and reward them for a job well done," he said.

As a thank you Gumede spent R3million on a party with his staff on April 16.

The highlight of the occasion was a new vehicle for Shereen Jansen of Cape Town, thanks to a nationwide competition for public phone users.

Hundreds of other prizes, including television sets and refrigerators, were also won by other consumers.

Guma, a BEE company, won a Telkom tender worth R600million in 2002.

Reflecting on the rough road the company has travelled to reach the mark, Gumede highlighted how they survived court battles brought by British businessman John Sterenborg.

The Briton accused him of bribery to win the tender. This was after Gumede was reported to have donated R10million to an ANC fundraising dinner.

Gumede said he spent R30million buying a company that was bankrupt.

"I am a businessman who believes in a never-die attitude. Some people thought I was mad to buy a business that was not making money, but I thought that if I spent R30million on a business, how much more could I make in the future?" Gumede said.

He mentioned five court cases brought against him by Sterenborg and said he won them all. He said Sterenborg returned to his country while a police investigation against him was pending.

With efforts, including sending some employees to train in Germany and France, he was confident that the Guma had a bright future.