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TEE FOR TWO: Sol and golfing champion Gary Player, who was granted the contract for the design of the new Lost City golf course.


MODEL OF VENALITY:Sol, Lucas Mangope and his wife, Leah, inspect a model of Sun City. Sol treated Mangope and his family members like VIPs and the presidential suites at the resort were always at his disposal.



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SUN INTERNATIONAL (SA) LIMITED



The Sun King gets a license to build his empire
The Mangope Connection - exclusive extracts from Greenblo's "Kerzner Unauthorised."
Kickback City - exclusive extracts from Greenblo's "Kerzner Unauthorised."
Boardroom blitz that eclipsed the "upstarts" at Sun Bop




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Kickback City - exclusive extracts from Greenblo's "Kerzner Unauthorised."

IN 1994 (a year after the contractors and others employed indirectly for Lost City had moved off the site) Sun Bop had some 9 400 people on its payroll. Match this number with the R75,2-million tax concession and it doesn't seem the most glaringly cost-efficient manner for a government to assist job creation.

"The kickback arrangement, renewed annually by letter, remained in force at least until the end of 1988 and there is no reason to believe that it didn't continue until the end of Bop in 1994."
It's additionally underlined by the agreement, kept under wraps between Sun and Bop, for backhanders on the tax withheld from the entertainment and golfing superstars who performed at Sun City. Unsurprisingly, this agreement is recorded by Young as "classified". It was in place at the latest by September 1980 (after Sun City's opening, prior to the formation of Sun International) when the Bop secretary for finance wrote to Sol in his capacity as the Southern Sun managing director:

"The Bophuthatswana Government will pay to your firm an amount calculated on the actual tax paid to the Bophuthatswana Government, in respect of promotions to which this concession applies, by the principal entertainers and performers associated with such promotions as follows:

  • 70 percent of the actual tax paid if the tax so paid does not exceed R50 000; plus

  • 80 percent of the actual tax paid in the bracket from R50 000 to R100 000; plus

  • 90 percent of the actual tax paid in excess of R100 000."

    The kickback arrangement, renewed annually by letter, remained in force at least until the end of 1988 and there is no reason to believe that it didn't continue until the end of Bop in 1994. A 1987 memorandum to the Bop executive council from the department of finance, signed by Young, is headed "Income Tax, Entertainers Tax - Sun International (Bophuthatswana) Ltd."

    1. The Bophuthatswana Tax Act was amended to increase the maximum tax rate for entertainers visiting the country for periods less than 31 days from 40 percent to 50 percent. The rate applied only to income of R26 000.

    2. In order to encourage the development of Sun International (Bophuthatswana Limited) an agreement was entered into with them. It provided that 90 percent of any taxes collected from the above entertainers would be given back to the company.

    3. The agreement is regarded as classified and is not known about generally.

    Clearly, Rod Stewart and Elton John, Julio Iglesias and Laura Branigan, Seve Balesteros and Bernard Langer, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo, weren't to know that up to 90 percent of the tax withheld from their payments at Sun City was paid back to Sun Bop. Taxpayers weren't to know either, for secrecy was a condition of the agreement. Sol and Sun could bask in the glory and surreptitiously keep part of the money for a Bop promotional job well done. Through the good offices of Sol and Sun Bop, in defiance of world-wide sanctions, the megastars of stage, screen and golf courses helped bring a semblance of international respectability and identity to the model of grand apartheid; for their efforts they weren't allowed to be aware that from their own pockets they were paying Sun Bop for the privilege.

    At Sun City the requirements for lowest costs and highest standards might sometimes have been sublimated to nepotism. The wives of various managers had concessions for ice-cream supplies, retail space and promotional T-shirts. Sol's buddy Jeff Rubenstein was awarded the lease on the hotel's supermarket property.

    More curious was the contract to launder the hotel linen. Worth an "astronomic" amount, according to a Sun International Executive, no competitive quotes were invited before the contract went to the Boston Dry Cleaners company in which a member of the Mangope family was said to be a substantial shareholder. In fact, a search of the Companies Registration Office reveals that Boston Laundry and Dry Cleaning (Bophuthatswana) (Pty) Limited had five directors: Costas Demetriades and Demetrios Yiallouris of Johannesburg, whose occupations were both described as "Dry Cleaner"; Jeff Rubenstein, "Manager" ; Paul Ditshetelo , "Consul General"; Gert Nkau, "Secretary of Internal Affairs"; and Leah Mangope, "Housewife". Not only were Ditshetelo and Nkau senior Bop civil servants but Ditshetelo was Lucas Mangope's brother-in-law and Nkau his closest friend; Lucas and Leah Mangope are, of course, husband and wife. As befits a head of state, Mangope enjoyed VIP treatment at the Sun Bop properties.

    The presidential suites were at his disposal. Informally, Sol is said by former Sun International executives to have kept an accountant's watch on his personal financial affairs. When a son of Mangope treated Sun City staff as his servants, or wouldn't take no for an answer from Sun City showgirls, the calls went straight through to Sol for his attention.

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