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'Loan shark' has Jo'burg residents seething


Rubbing shoulders with the famous ... Frank Buyanga (left) with Liverpool legend John Barnes

07/06/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporters
 
 
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Zim loan shark wanted by UK police
HE HAS gained notoriety in Zimbabwe as a ruthless “loan shark” whose debt collection methods would make the Gestapo envious.

But residents of these upmarket apartments in Sandton, Johannesburg, are getting used to the lawless ways of their new neighbour, Frank Tawanda Buyanga.

When the electric gate to the apartments unexpectedly closed as he was driving in last week, and left a dent on his £300,000 soft-top Rolls-Royce, he parked his expensive motor in the gateway – blocking all traffic.

He only moved the Rolls after three hours when a property manager for the Michelangelo Towers, built at a cost of US$110 million in 2005, arrived at the scene and made an undertaking to engage their insurance for compensation.

Buyanga, who owns a R3,2 million one bedroom pad at the Towers, has an allocation of two parking spaces like the rest of the residents – but he normally has SEVEN Zimbabwe-registered cars from his expensive collection including an Aston Martin DB9, a Range Rover, two Lamborghinis, a Bentley Continental, a Mercedes 4x4 and a Rolls Royce competing for space in the basement.

A neighbour fed up with the 32-year-old’s ways said: “He thinks he is the only important resident, so he parks at the main entrance as well.

“He has no qualms with blocking other people and taking their parking spaces, as far as he’s concerned the world is the Wild Wild West and he is the baddest gun slinger of them all.”

Another neighbour added: “He calls himself a pastor but he and his friends are seen with different women all the time. One of his girlfriends now drives around in his Aston Martin.

“How is it that amidst the sea of poverty in Zimbabwe someone can own a property in Michelangelo Towers and crowd the basement with supercars?”


Gatekeeper ... Buyanga's Rolls blocks exit after eletric gate dented his car



Car collection ... Buyanga's Lamborghinis in basement car park



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Hang-out ... Buyanga with a female associate in the 8 @ the Towers Restaurant


Buyanga is a sidekick of the controversial British property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten, and is wanted by police in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, for failing to turn up in court on a charge of conspiracy to defraud.

He fled the UK for Zimbabwe where, with Hoogstraten’s help, he set up Hamilton Finance – which quickly attracted the attentions of the police after he seized over 500 stands and houses from people who defaulted on loans extended to them at extortionate interest rates.

Because he is wanted on fraud charges in the UK, Buyanga appeared to have misled the regulatory authorities in Zimbabwe about his background which should have precluded him from being a director of a financial services company.

He later stood down as director, but remains the force behind the company and one of the leading three so-called “loan sharks” along with Hoogstraten and another controversial businessman, Jayesh Shah.


Fugitive ... Buyanga is listed as 'wanted' on the Hertfordshire Constabulary website in the UK



Expensive garage ... Buyanga's Aston Martin DB9, a Mercedes ML and a Lambo



Writing the rules ... Buyanga's Rolls parked at the entrance of Towers



Neo-classical ... Michelangelo Towers cost R750m to build and 1 bed apartments cost over R3m


A prominent member of the ZAOGA Church, Buyanga has been spending a lot of time in Johannesburg where he frequents the 8 @ the Towers Restaurant in the lobby of the Michelangelo Towers.

He recently splashed on a pad at the neo-classical 35-storey high-rise Towers which stand 146m above street level -- the tallest building on the Sandton skyline and the sixth tallest building in Johannesburg.

The 196-apartment Manhattan-style complex features intricate classical detail on the facade using bricks and a specialised external sandstone finish with extensive aluminium and glass sliding doors and windows, stainless steel handrails, glazed balustrades and marble granite and plaster cladding.

The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported in January that Buyanga had “links” with South African President Jacob Zuma and controversial African National Congress (ANC) bigwig, Fana Hlongwane, who has been subject of a police probe over allegations of arms dealing.

Buyanga, the paper reported, was part of Zuma’s entourage when the president toured Russia and China last year. He has been using these political links to spread his tentacles into South Africa on top of other opaque schemes he runs in Zambia and Malawi.

In Zambia, he is reportedly in partnership with Zimbabwean businessman Ian Haruperi, said to be a close associate of President Rupiah Banda. Haruperi joined Buyanga on Zuma’s entourage to Russia last August.

Haruperi’s Facebook page has several pictures of himself, Buyanga, Zuma and other members of his entourage in Moscow.

Several messages left for Buyanga were not returned. His lawyers insist that he does not face any criminal charges in Zimbabwe, and that his business activities are legitimate.


 
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