Zuma son must still pay for wedding rings
President Jacob Zuma’s son, Edward, spared no cost for a lavish wedding party last year, but he had to borrow a stainless steel ring for the ceremony because he had no money to pay for the one he had ordered.
Independent Newspapers’ sources confirmed that seven months later the ring which was lent to him, just for his one special day, still had not made its way back to the owner.
And two of the three rings which had been specially designed and made for the couple still had not been paid for and collected.
The latest in the junior Zuma’s money woes emerged this week, shortly after the Durban High Court heard that he still owed R1.5 million to the Durban company which had co-ordinated his star-studded fairytale wedding, which was televised.
It is understood that in October last year Zuma’s fiancée, Phumelele Shange, approached an exclusive jewellery boutique in Durban to create their wedding bands.
She also wanted an engagement ring, and the bill for the three exquisitely designed jewels amounted to R250,000.
Even this week, the boutique’s owner, Dean Gorrie, insisted that he could not divulge any details of the transaction because he believed in being discreet about agreements with his clients. But Independent Newspapers learnt that the Zumas were asked to produce half of the amount as a deposit and about a week later they appeared with R100,000, promising the rest would be paid in due course.
The jewellers had two weeks to make a diamond-encrusted wedding band and a sparkling two-and-a-half carat diamond engagement ring set in 18 carat white gold for Shange.
For her husband to be, she chose an exclusive Mark Gold design which was a diamond-studded puzzle ring.
Gorrie, again emphasising client confidentiality, said: “I’m just a small jeweller… I don't want to be drawn into politics”.
However, he acknowledged that Zuma and his wife had been their clients and that he had designed their rings.
It is understood that on the night before the wedding Zuma arrived at the jewellery store with another R70,000 in cash in his pockets.
He apparently claimed that he was waiting on “foreign funds” and money which was still to be “released”. However, because he still owed R80,000, he only left with Shange’s impressive diamond engagement ring.
His diamond puzzle ring and her diamond-encrusted wedding band remained in the shop.
The rings were engraved with their names and the wedding date.
When pressed for further details Gorrie reluctantly said: “I didn’t release anything that wasn’t paid for”.
His wedding band, which was not paid for, was not released.
Because Zuma needed a ring for the ceremony, the shop apparently lent him “an entry-level stainless steel band” for the big day. That ring has not been returned.
Shange’s wedding band is still on display in the shop.
However, Gorrie said Zuma's puzzle ring had been “dismantled”.
“Because it’s gold you can make something else with it… At the end of the day they did me no harm,” he said.
Several phone calls to Zuma went unanswered.
However, The Mercury, sister paper of the Pretoria News, managed to get hold of his wife who said she had no idea what reporters were referring to. “Unfortunately my husband deals with the media. I’m not allowed to comment, but I’m wearing my wedding ring,” said Shange.
She said Edward also had a wedding ring and that the paper should continue to call him until he could be reached. She ended the call.
Kerry Stephenson, who also works at the jewellery shop, said the newlyweds didn’t contact them again.
Stephenson said she sent several text messages to Shange asking if they were “coming back for the balance of the jewels”. Shange promised they would be back but made a range of excuses for the delay from being in hospital to having “lots of errands” to run, but they never returned for the rings.
The jewellery shop has not taken action against the Zumas.