The people behind Isago.
The PIC's partners in Klerksdorp. From left: Doreen Crause, Una-Marie Crause, and Martin Khunou.
  • The PIC has plans to build a massive new development, once billed as a new CBD, outside Klerksdorp.
  • It has spent well over half a billion rand of government pension money on empty farmland to do so, and kept on the previous owners of that land as its partners.
  • That has made three individuals into property tycoons, even before they become the controllers of 40% of a new town hub.
  • Meet the quilter, the fashion designer, and the doctor behind the PIC's big investment in Klerksdorp.
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If big plans by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) come to fruition, three individuals will control nearly 40% of what was once punted as a new central business district (CBD) for Klerksdorp.

Even before that happens, the three now control what is, on paper at least, nearly R390 million worth of land – after being paid R450 million in cash for part of that same land.

But none of them are high-profile property tycoons. One is best known as a quilter, the other a fashion designer, and the third started out as a medical doctor.

And the route by which they came to be property tycoons is convoluted, even by the standards of property development.

It emerged last week that the PIC, on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF)had paid R586.5 million for a part share in a stretch of empty farmland between Klerksdorp and Stilfontein.

See also: Govt's pension fund seems to have gifted developers hundreds of millions for empty farmland – now questions are being asked

The deal has several remarkable features.

The PIC bought only 60% of the land, which gives the property an implied value of R980 million. The remaining 40% is owned by a company almost entirely made up of the previous owners of the stretch of land.

The precursor company to that 40% partner, Isago, is not unknown to pension funds that look after public servants.

R137 million of the money paid by the PIC seems to have gone straight to the Municipal Councillors Pension Fund (MCPF). That fund has alleged that it overpaid for land it "bought" from Isago – it the same area where the PIC is now a major landholder – and that it never actually received the land. Under threat of liquidation, Isago agreed to repay the MCPF, then missed its deadline because the sale of land to the PIC had not closed yet.

The books of the MCPF currently reflect a loss of around 35% on another property transaction with Isago it has not yet managed to reverse.

See also: Government’s pension fund just spent R586m on empty Klerksdorp farmland – after another state fund lost millions in the same area

But the PIC has shown no concern around its deal with Isago. It plans to develop a "a new mixed use precinct on the land", it said in a statement that answered some questions, and ignored others.

Isago and its predecessors have put it more grandly. In one 2014 brochure the planned development is described as nothing less than "the new Klerksdorp hub/CBD", with "hospitals, schools, retirement villages", all centred on the since-built Matlosana Mall.

As the corporate structure stood at the last available public information, that hub will be 40% owned by a new incarnation of Isago which, in turn, is 99% owned by two companies, Anglo Saxon Developments and Moedi Bosele Investors.

Two companies, three controlling individuals.

The exact shareholding of these two companies is not clear. Neither has responded to requests for their shareholder registries, or responded to attempts to contact their directors.

While some information can be drawn from a decision of the Competition Tribunal, neither that body nor the Competition Commission has been able to provide a detailed merger record to date, where the details of owners could have been captured.

But company records are clear on one thing: each of the companies has only one director, which gives those individuals a great deal of control over the entities. They are Doreen Crause and Martin Khunou, for respectively Anglo Saxon and Moedi Bosele.

One other key individual appears in the record: Una-Marie Crause, identified alongside her mother Doreen as controlling a trust, which in turn controls Anglo Saxon, with is the majority shareholder in the new version of Isago.

Between them, these three people control a big chunk of a newly valuable piece of land – and could play a disproportionate role in the development of a new mini-city between Klerksdorp and Stilfontein.

Meet the three property tycoons behind the PIC's big investment outside Klerksdorp.

Doreen Crause: expert quilter and versatile director.

Doreen Crause
Doreen Crause, in a May 2018 Instagram Post. (Via Instagram)

Doreen Crause, historically based in the Western Cape town of George, is a low-profile businessperson. She is a director for some 30 companies with interests in everything from mining to aviation – but is better known for her passion for quilting.

According to its website, Crause is the vice chair of the Jacaranda Quilters Guild this year, and she is listed as a committee member for the South African Quilters Guild, responsible for its "youth projects and social media".

In 2011 she qualified as a quilt judge, certifying her as "knowledgeable in all aspects of quilt-making". 

Meanwhile she has also been deeply involved in plans for Klerksdorp's development, for at least half a decade as a director of Matlosana Gateway, the group that had been planning the development the PIC now wants to implement.

In 2018, correspondence suggests, Crause played a critical roll in holding off a threatened liquidation of Isago by the Municipal Councillors Pension Fund, so that the PIC deal could be concluded.

According to WhatsApp read-receipts, Crause this week read messages sent to a number which rings through to a voicemail message identifying her as its owner. She did not respond.

Una-Marie Crause: fashion designer.

Una-Marie Crause
Una-Maria Crause, via Instagram.

Unlike her mother, the late-20s Una-Marie Crause does not appear in company records as a director of enterprises, and she has no evident track record in property development.

Her joint control of Anglo Saxon and so the new Isago, making her a key partner to the PIC, is disclosed via a single footnote in a Competition Tribunal document.

Crause trained in fashion design at the Fedisa Fashion School in Cape Town, and her passion for fashion is evident in her social media footprint, with admissions such as being "a little obsessed with snake print".

She has also, at least once, made her own bag.

Crause did not respond to attempts to reach her via social media.

Martin Khunou: medical doctor and entrepreneur.

Martin Khunou
Martin Khunou. (Image via YouTube)

Doctor Martin Khunou is a family practitioner turned entrepreneur deeply involved in the Klerksdorp area – and deeply invested in its future. 

He qualified as a doctor in 1987 and operated a surgery in Klerksdorp as Doctor RM Khunou, but abandoned that practice, and his registration with the Health Professions Council of SA

Khunou founded the non-profit Matlosana Arts and Culture Exchange Festival (MACEF) in 2015, with the ambition of being "the leading arts, culture and tourism event in South Africa" according to one brochure. Its last publicised event was in 2017.

His name appears on liquor-licence applications for the Kwa-Mothakga Lodge, which specialises in traditional weddings, and he is a director of a long list of companies connected to everything from food distribution to medical supplies.

But when asked to describe himself, it is "property development" that Khunou cites as his area of business interest, and that is not limited to the PIC's planned new town. He has also acted as the promoter for the "Meiringspark Gate Way" in a different part of Klerksdorp, on what was estimated to be a R200 million project to build a shopping complex and residential area. 

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