An R80 000 booze bill racked up during a two-day “official ANC” election bash at a Durban nightspot – organised by Youth League “heavyweights” – remains unpaid.
The two event planners, Emmanuel Bongumusa Gumede and Themba Dlomo, who insisted that it was an official party soirée, signed off on bills for expensive single-malt scotch and lavish seafood platters and have since evaded settling the tab for nearly two months.
They held court at the Velvet Lounge in Durban’s Florida Road as their comrades swilled whisky and popped bottles of champagne in an all-night party.
Now, long after the ballot hype has died down, the event planners have gone to ground.
The ANC distanced themselves from the two, but an SMS sent by Dlomo in the run-up to the party reads: “Wanted to tell u that am hosting ANC youth league party tonight at 7pm @ Velvet Lounge Florida Road, as my comrade kindly attend.”
Just the whiskies quaffed by the VIPs at the bash, including eThekwini proportional representation councillor Sibongile Nhlapo, amounted to R24 000, while the champagne came to almost R10 000.
Copies of unpaid bills signed by Gumede that amount to R82 583.35 were handed to the police.
Club owners remain out of pocket as the party planners consistently renege on promises to settle the flash tab.
A company director, who requested anonymity, confirmed that they had not been paid.
“These guys have been saying for weeks that they will settle the bill and really it has been the same story since the night they ran out of here without paying,” he said.
“It has been one promise after the next for payment and the excuses have become really colourful, mainly that they are trying to source money from their associates to settle the bill,” he added.
Exasperated, the restaurateur turned to the police.
“Still these guys have not been arrested and they are responsible for paying this money. With all their promises they have not even come here to pay at least an instalment and now I am responsible for paying my supplier.”
“I took all of the goods from my supplier on good faith that he would be paid and now we are both in trouble, this is not a small bill we are talking about, it is almost worth a deposit on a property,” he added.
A source close to the investigation, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press, said the investigation of the docket had stalled.
“The docket was open by the owners of the club and statements were taken. Among the evidence gathered were signed slips from the establishment which total more than R83 000. It would appear that the owners and the two suspects are trying to resolve the matter on their own, with the former accepting payment promises from the latter.
Gumede could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts to contact him.
Dlomo responded with vitriol and threats. “I don’t know why they keep dragging me into this matter, it has nothing to do with me. I am not afraid of this guy [the club owner] and he persists in talking shit about me to everyone,” he said.
He conceded that he attended the function and helped organise it.
“I facilitated this function but I was never responsible for paying for it. We must go to court,” he added.
According to public documents, Gumede is the director of four companies in various phases of liquidation. He has close links with controversial convicted entrepreneur, socialite and self-proclaimed prince Sifiso Zulu. Dlomo has ties with well-known ANC millionaire businessman PG Mavundla of Greytown.
ANCYL spokesperson Siboniso Duma could not be reached for comment.