Mogul Vernon Zuma, dealership at war over Bentley payment

Bentley Continental GT V8S, similar to Zuma's
Bentley Continental GT V8S, similar to Zuma's

A Joburg businessman is embroiled in a dramatic payment dispute with a car dealership over a R4.2m Bentley Continental GT V8S.

Vernon Zuma and his wife Shereen, using their jointly-owned company Sozala Energy, obtained financing for the road beast after using two Porsches - a Cayenne Turbo and a 2017 911 - as security when they bought it at NB Car Sales.

According to a court application filed by the dealership at the South Gauteng High Court, the couple bought the luxurious vehicle in November last year, using their company Sozala Energy, in which they are both directors, as the purchaser. Sozala Energy committed to pay the full amount of R4.2m before December 15.

However, despite taking possession of the car after signing the agreement, their company failed to make payment to the dealership.

This was also after the couple had confirmed to the dealership that their company had an annual income of more than R2m.

According to an affidavit filed by Naushad Hassim and the agreement signed between the two parties, Zuma's company was expected to return the vehicle to the dealership if it failed to pay the amount.

Vernon Zuma

But the court papers show that the company failed to return the Bentley to the dealership and when they enquired about the payment or the return of the vehicle, the papers shows that Zuma, acting on behalf of his company, asked to be given until February 2018 to resolve the matter.

"On February 19 2018, the second respondent (Zuma) and Mr Schutte of the applicant's attorneys had a telephonic conversation regarding the first respondent's (Sozala Energy's) failure to pay the purchase price to the applicant. The second respondent undertook (on behalf of the first respondent) to pay the purchase price directly into the trust bank account of the applicant's attorneys, plus 10% interest on the purchase price, calculated from December 15 2017 to date of payment," reads the papers.

The papers indicate that this agreement was also endorsed by Zuma's attorney, Kevin Hacker who also sent an e-mail to the dealership's lawyers confirming that the company was going to make payment on March 15 2018.

But when the day arrived, the papers show that through his lawyer, Zuma asked for an additional seven days to settle the R4.2m purchase price his company owed for the Bentley.

The dealership said while waiting for Zuma to perform a miracle, they discovered on July 31 that he had obtained a quotation from PMR Automative, trading as Executive Mobility Financial Solutions, on June 21 for refinancing on one of his two Porsches.

"On July 24 2018, the second respondent and PMR signed a written 'Vehicle Rental Agreement' in terms of which the second respondent indeed 're-financed' the 911," reads the court papers.

The dealership further said that by refinancing the vehicle that was put up as security, Zuma's company had not only breached terms of the agreement but had also allegedly committed fraud against them.

They also stated that they were now compelled to obtain two valuations of the Bentley to determine the damages they suffered as result of the breach of contract.

"... The First respondent (in the meantime) enjoys the use and possession of the vehicle, thereby causing a depreciation in the value thereof."

Hassim further said that the continued use of the Bentley was also putting the dealership at risk of irreparable financial harm should the vehicle be stolen or be damaged or destroyed in an accident.

Zuma told Sunday World earlier in the week he had not received the court documents to confirm knowledge of the application.

However, he confirmed that he owned "several Bentleys" but refused to confirm if one of them was the one being chased after by NB Car Sales.

"What does this have to do with Sunday World? Besides, I haven't received any court papers, but I have more than one Bentley," he said.

A day later, Hacker told Sunday World that the application by NB Car Sales was being withdrawn from court as the matter was being settled by the two parties.