Threatening SMS left Fani Titi's business partner terrified‚ court told

24 April 2018 - 14:24
By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Investec CEO Fani Titi has brought a crimen injuria case against former partner Peter-Paul Ngwenya.
Image: Robert Tshabalala Investec CEO Fani Titi has brought a crimen injuria case against former partner Peter-Paul Ngwenya.

A threatening text message sent to Investec chairman Fani Titi and his business partner Aqueel Patel by politically connected businessman Peter-Paul Ngwenya had left the latter "terrified".

"I was shocked out of my life. My wife‚ who was with me when I got the SMS‚ was gobsmacked by what she saw. I was terrified‚" Patel said.

Patel‚ the managing director of MRC Media‚ of which Ngwenya was chairman‚ told the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday that Titi had forwarded him an SMS from Ngwenya.

Ngwenya‚ who spent almost five years in prison on Robben Island‚ is facing a charge of crimen injuria for allegedly calling Titi a k*ff*r in the text message.

In the same SMS‚ Ngwenya told Patel‚ "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.

The conflict between Ngwenya and Titi‚ who had been friends for 20 years‚ stems from a multimillion-rand deal that went sour. Ngwenya claims that Titi owes him close to R54-million.

The relationship degenerated when Ngwenya allegedly called Free State-born Titi a "Qwaqwa k*ff*r" and a "Bantustan boss" in an SMS intended for Patel.

Patel told the court that Ngwenya's gripe was over the payment of dividends‚ which he had demanded be paid directly into his account. The dividends‚ according to Patel‚ were to be paid to Columbia‚ a company of which Ngwenya was an ordinary shareholder.

"Mr Ngwenya wanted the dividends to be paid into his personal account."

Patel said he then instructed one of his staff members to not pay the money into Ngwenya's personal account as dividends were due to the company and not him.

Following the threatening SMS‚ Patel obtained a protection order against Ngwenya‚ he said. The protection order prohibited Ngwenya from contacting or threatening Patel directly or indirectly.

Patel told the court that months after the SMS‚ Ngwenya had stormed into his business premises‚ demanding payment of the dividends.

"I was told that Mr Ngwenya was at reception and in an incredibly aggressive mood. I went upstairs to start processing the payment. I was concerned he would hurt somebody if we didn't do what he was requesting."

According to Patel‚ after making the payment‚ Ngwenya demanded that they call the bank to clear the funds immediately.

Patel also told the court that he was particularly fearful of Ngwenya because he had previously had an encounter with him. He alleged that Ngwenya had once shouted at him and called him a thief and a racist.