Yekani CEO denies blaming minister's husband for firm's woes - TechCentral

Yekani CEO denies blaming minister’s husband for firm’s woes

The R1-billion Yekani Manufacturing facility in East London. Image c/o Aki Anastasiou

The CEO of the R1-billion electronics manufacturing facility in East London at risk of permanent closure has denied a Sunday Times report that he blamed Thato Abrahams, husband of communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, for the company’s woes.

In a statement on Monday, Yekani Manufacturing CEO Siphiwe Cele strongly denied making the claims about Abrahams.

“The company would like to categorically refute (the report) and distance itself from the claims made by the Sunday Times,” Cele said in the statement.

“Yekani would like to reiterate that it does not blame minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and her husband — or anyone else both in the public and the private sector — for the financial issues that the company is experiencing currently.”

Cele said he takes “full responsibility” for the troubles facing the flagship facility, which until last year manufactured Explora decoders for MultiChoice Group.

He said Yekani’s priority remains “to do everything in its power to protect and save the jobs of its employees”.

“The group CEO of Yekani would like to thank the national department of trade & industry, the Eastern Cape office of the premier, the Eastern Cape department of economic development, the East London Industrial Development Zone for all their support and willingness to assist in saving the jobs of our employees.”

Standard Bank loan

The manufacturing facility faces liquidation after failing to make repayments on a multimillion-rand loan to Standard Bank. It failed to reopen its doors after the December holiday break.

The Sunday Times reported that Cele had alleged to the newspaper that the business was going under because he refused to sell a controlling stake to Thato Abrahams.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

According to the newspaper, the Industrial Development Corporation introduced Abrahams to Cele as an investor who would buy the majority stake for R1-billion. Cele reportedly refused to sell, after which his business “ran into trouble and his pleas for government help – to save his company and the jobs of 50 employees – fell on deaf ears”, it said.

Yekani and Standard Bank’s last court appearance was on 14 January 2020, where a judgement determining the future of Yekani was going to be handed down. This was postponed until 18 February 2020.

“In an effort to respect the court processes, Yekani is currently unable to provide further details or comment on any rumours around this matter as it runs the risk of prejudicing or interfering with the pending court proceedings and its outcome,” the company said.  — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media

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