It turns out the flamboyant Mpumalanga businessman’s real surname is Chabalala and no one is really sure where he comes from.
The Hawks revealed in a statement on Monday that 27-year-old businessman Sam Chabalala, popularly known as Sam Mshengu of Sam Holdings, had allegedly attempted to bribe his way out of looming legal trouble last week.
It only made his troubles worse though.
Brigadier Hangwani Muluadzi said in the statement that Chabalala appeared in the Witbank Magistrates’ Court on Monday on charges of alleged bribery, corruption, possession of an unlicensed firearm and fraud in terms of contravening the Immigration Act.
He was arrested on Friday at a restaurant at Emalahleni’s Highveld Mall after an alleged attempt to pay home affairs officials R40,000 “to destroy reports of a fraudulently obtained South African identity document against him”, said the Hawks.
The Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crimes Investigation unit swooped on him shortly afterwards and found an unlicensed firearm in his vehicle, a green Mercedes-Benz, one of many luxury cars he owns.
He will be appearing to apply for bail again on Friday. On Monday, there was a fair bit of drama outside court when supporters arrived in a fleet of flashy cars to support him.
An investigation of Chabalala’s citizenship status had earlier been initiated by the department of home affairs, with reports suggesting that he is actually from Zimbabwe and may have allegedly obtained his South African citizenship illegally. The Hawks, however, are apparently still trying to ascertain where he really comes from.
The Sowetan has reported that he allegedly only got his ID in 2015 and the woman he claimed was his mother allegedly said she’d never heard of him. Bethal Hospital apparently also had no record of his claimed birth.
The accused’s lawyer, however, told the tabloid that the state had a “weak case” and would struggle to prove it.
Most South Africans had never heard of the young millionaire until he became the face of a flashy convoy of supercars that travelled to the Durban July this year.
At the time, The Citizen reported that “Mshengu” was an Mpumalanga-based businessman who set tongues wagging after having the longest convoy at the event, boasting top-of-the-range cars, with many asking how he had made his money. Of the 72 cars, 10 were his.
Claiming to be born in Makwarela, Venda, he opened up on radio in July about his difficult upbringing and how he eventually made it in the logistics business.
He registered his company, Sam Holdings Trading, in 2014 and used his boss’ trucks to start his business.
“I got a contract even when I didn’t have a truck at the time. I took my boss’ trucks and registered them. I was getting a commission of R10 at the time. I worked for a long time and raised money to buy my own truck. I could make R300,000 a month with commission and salary at the time.”
He kept working and saving money until it got to R3 million. He used the money to buy three trucks and trailers cash.
“Now I have 52 trucks running on the road with machines and plant hire. That’s how I made my money. I’ve never been involved in anything illegal. I do transport with Eskom, but I’m also venturing into mining now with my own mine. It’s all my mind and planning and the mercy of God,” he said.