Kenny Kunene is a force to be reckoned with in the business world. He tells us how he does it.
What do you do?
--> I’m an executive and shareholder of mining company Central Rand Gold.
I also have various other companies including an investment entity with overseas business partners. And I’m a director of a publishing company, X-Concepts.
What qualifications do you hold and from which institutions?
I’m a teacher by profession and, believe it or not, I never studied accounting or business studies.
I did my teachers’ degree at the former Vista University (now called Central University of Technology) at the Welkom Campus.
How did you end up in business?
To tell you the truth I never liked school, but my grandparents forced me to at least finish my first degree. I’m very grateful for that.
I always loved business and in high school I used to sell fruit. During weekends I helped out at a township tavern.
I guess that’s where and how I developed an interest in business.
Where did you work before?
I was a teacher and loved it because I was making a difference to young kids. Never mind the low salary.
What do you like or dislike about your job?
I like what I do because it gives me a chance to make a difference in ordinary people’s lives.
I dislike it when I have to deal with greedy, egocentric people who pursue their own interest at the expense of others.
Where do you see yourself in the near future?
I see myself with billions of what we call risk money, which I can invest in the economic development of young people with business talent.
Where do you think young people lose it?
They want to live ahead of their ages and others idolise criminals.
They get excited about material possessions that criminals show off and think they too can follow suit.
My advise to them is: don’t think you can master any crime or do drugs. And don’t abuse anyone who is weaker than you, protect and be a hero. We all have it in us.
They must read The Choice: The Gayton McKenzie Story. It’s a life-changing book.
How do you spend your leisure time?
Some people play golf, some go to soccer stadiums and others do picnics, but I love to party.
What car do you drive?
Not that I’m bragging, but I drive the best. I have a 911 Porsche Carrera, GTS Porsche Cayenne and a BMW 1Series. How Kenny Kunene Made His Money: •In jail, Kenny Kunene says, he earned R22 a month making tea for the warders at Grootvlei Prison, and other cash and goods working for Gayton McKenzie "in the smuggling business"; •On his release in 2003, he declined numerous invitations to take part in robberies and scams, despite having only R3000 in his bank account; •In 2004, he earned a small wage as the agent for a man selling refurbished desks and stationery to schools in the Free State; •Later that year, he used his old contacts to arrange discounts on equipment for a partner starting a nightclub in Odendaalsrus, and earned a stake in the business; •In September 2005, he got a teaching job at Calculus Secondary School in Bloemfontein, teaching life orientation and English, for which he earned R3000 a month. He bought an old VW Golf, but had to put it on blocks; •In 2006, with less than R10 000 in assets, he struck a deal with Gayton McKenzie to form X Concepts Publishing and to promote and sell McKenzie's prison biography. They also began a fish company with four trucks and a refrigerated warehouse, and later sold it "for profit"; •Kunene became rich in 2007 selling tickets for McKenzie's motivational talks to companies for "big money" and also advised people on "holes" in their home security for a fee. A portion of the money they made from the book sales was invested in a "mine consultancy business". Benefactor Greg James's company, CRG, hired Kunene on a large contractor's salary. He does not deny that he received share options allegedly worth hundreds of thousands of rands; •In February 2008, he was appointed a senior manager of community relations at CRG. He bought a multimillion-rand Sandton apartment and a Porsche 911, using a numberplate that read "What now?" as a taunt to prisoners who said he could not afford the car without resorting to crime; •Applying business lessons he says they had learnt from mentors, James and Gavin Varejes, Kunene and McKenzie attracted foreign investors and became part owners of "about three, four companies"; and •In February 2010, the pair began mining operations in Zimbabwe. Kunene says they are in the process of securing R140-million in start-up funding from foreign investors for a R700-million mining project "in another African country" and plan further ZAR clubs in Durban and Mozambique.
Kenny Kunene spent USD100,000 for his 40th birthday bash! There’s no stopping Joburg tycoon Kenny Kunene.Hard Work Pays Off!!!
Berated by no less than Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi for his extravagant 40th birthday party last week, the flash BEE businessman is doing it all over again on Saturday. He’s off home to Welkom to celebrate with close friends and relatives. Kunene ran foul of Vavi after newspaper reports claimed he had spent more than R700 000 on last Thursday’s party. Most of it went on imported booze such as Moët & Chandon’s Dom Pérignon and Louis Roederer’s Cristal champagnes and Chivas Regal whisky, at the ZAR nightclub he owns with former convict Gayton Mackenzie, to party the night away with the who’s who of the current elite.
Kunene hit back, by writing an open letter to Vavi, ripping him apart for his alleged hypocrcisy and telling him to “go hang or go to hell”. The letter was widely reprinted by newspapers on Friday, but, speaking to the Saturday Star afterwards Kunene couldn’t resist taking another dig. The one thing Vavi and the media had got wrong, he said, was that it had been a one-day party. “On Saturday I had a pool party at my place. I had so many beautiful ladies strutting around in their bikinis, it was so much fun,” he said. “We drank, ate, partied all weekend and I could not have had a better birthday party. I am not ashamed or embarrassed, as I am having honest fun,” said Kunene. “I have absolutely no problem with people speaking their minds, but Vavi is the biggest hypocrite I have ever met. Just because I am a black man, Vavi has decided to have a go at me, because he believes I got my money from doing crooked things,” said Kunene. “It’s an insult to me,” said Kunene. “I am no tenderpreneur, I earn my money with the hard work I have put in for a very long time. Vavi hates to see young black men succeed and it makes me sick to my stomach. He also called me a pig, which is uncalled for.” “Vavi enjoys a lavish lifestyle, just like me, and he has the nerve to criticise me. It’s ludicrous. While Vavi chooses to hide behind his wife and spend her money, I can say with a big smile on my face that it is my hard work that has earned me the money I have,” he added. His guests included presidential spokesman Zizi Kodwa, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, Malema’s spokesman, Floyd Shivambu, and socialite Khanyi Mbau. Kunene said Vavi’s comments about his party last weekend had done nothing to dampen his mood and he would continue to enjoy his birthday celebrations. “I have worked really hard to succeed in life. I truly deserved the party I threw last weekend and I will enjoy my celebrations with the less fortunate, as well as the people I grew up with in Welkom, today too,” said Kunene. He said while his birthday bash had cost him an “arm and a leg”, it was party he had always dreamt of having. “I had the best time of my life. While I had my main celebration on Thursday at my nightclub, the party lasted all weekend,” said Kunene.
Kenny Kunene with Billionaire Patrice Motsepe at Kunene's Club ZAR in South Africa
“I even had models lying down on tables so my guests could nibble sushi served on their stomachs. It was the best sushi I have ever had in my life. I couldn’t ask for more,” laughed Kunene.
He added that while it may have come as a shock to some, the way he chose to serve sushi at his birthday party was a very popular thing to do.
“It happens everywhere behind closed doors. I chose to do it in the public. Because I am from Africa does not mean I am rural. We are living in the 21st century and this happens in Europe and all over the world. I’m really glad I did it, because it was so much of fun,” he said.
He added that although he enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he had also given a lot back to those who were less fortunate.
“Yes, I might throw lavish parties which the media are always there for, but most people do not see how I help those less fortunate than myself.
Last year I helped several poor kids achieve their dream of going overseas by funding their trip with over R80 000,” said Kunene.
“I don’t like bragging because I do it out of the good of my heart, but I get really frustrated when an honest hard-working man like myself cannot even enjoy my own birthday party without someone saying something about it.” - Saturday Star
KENNY KUNENE BUYS A 1.5 MILLION LAMBORGHINI
A month after drawing public fury for his R700 000 birthday party, former gangster Kenny Kunene has ordered a yellow Lamborghini valued at around R1.5-million, and is shopping for a helicopter.
Kenny Kunene With Busta Rhymes at Kenny Kunene's Famous ZAR Night Club in South Africa
He has deliberately parked one of his four sports cars next to the BMW of his partner and fellow ex-convict, Gayton McKenzie, so that their personalised number plates read "X Con" - "So what".
Previously he spent R800 000 on a party in his Free State home town of Odendaalsrus to thank friends and ancestors. He arrived in a helicopter for the traditional slaughtering of a cow.
Just four years ago, Kunene says he had less than R10 000 in assets; had to hitch-hike to meetings, and sometimes slept in McKenzie's car.
Now, he is part-owner of a mining and entertainment empire and has partied with celebrities like John Legend and Arsene Wenger.
While Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi has called him a "hyena" who "spits in the face of the poor", Kunene claims to be a "new generation role model" for South Africa's poorest youth.
In an interview which he reluctantly granted to the Sunday Times, Kunene, 40, acknowledged that public speculation and suspicion was rife about how he had jumped from poverty to riches in just four years - he was released from jail in 2003.
"The reason why everybody is questioning my income is maybe they have limited knowledge of the business world," he said. "Or they are lazy - they like salaries, and to bask in the sun, and people must come and say 'there is a tender'."
Born in Kutlwanong township and raised by his grandparents and unemployed mother, Kunene now lives in a plush Sandton apartment, while his wife and son live in Odendaalsrus.
He was jailed at Grootvlei Prison in the Free State for six years for fraud in 1997 - having spent four years awaiting trial.
Here he risked his life to expose gross corruption and abuse at the Jali Commission.
He said he plotted his rise to riches here while literally on his knees, clipping the toenails and callouses from the feet of a prison warder.
However, this week Kunene revealed additional details of his criminal history, when he committed sometimes violent crimes for a gang while working as a Klerksdorp teacher.
In what he describes as "the worst thing I ever did", Kunene said that - enraged that a fellow gang member had heightened their risk of arrest - he shot a gang colleague in the thigh as they left the scene of a robbery.
Kunene admitted that he tried to sell ivory illegally in Pretoria in 1995 - and that he had grabbed a tourist around the neck to shield himself from police guns aimed at him before his arrest. This case was later dropped.
"We used to get involved in fraud, car theft, robberies," he said. "Now when we do our talks to kids and schools, we say: 'When we were criminals we couldn't enjoy our cars; we couldn't drive them in the daylight'."
Under threat to his life from prisoners and corrupt warders, Kunene said he had once carried a teapot spiked with rat poison to a whole panel of Jali Commission advocates, including Jerome Brauns, SC, who later defended President Jacob Zuma - but then warned them not to drink it.
"The 50 metres I walked with that kettle was the longest of my life. And the decision I made to warn Advocate Brauns was the best of my life."
For his success, Kunene credits McKenzie; ANC empowerment policies "beyond tenders"; "foreign investors", and the teaching and support of their two "mentors" - mine boss and philanthropist Greg James, and telecommunications tycoon Gavin Varejes.
He said McKenzie found him counselling troubled pupils at Calculus secondary school in Bloemfontein, at a salary of R3000 a month in 2006, and proposed they join forces to sell McKenzie's book, The Choice, to schools.
"We went everywhere; sometimes we'd sleep in the car - Gayton's M3 - when we could not (afford) a hotel," he said.
Kunene said that - inspired by the book's anti-crime message - James bought 80 000 copies of two versions of the book in June 2007 to give to Western Cape schools, providing them with the money to start "a small mine consultancy business".
Musician Lady May with Kenny Kunene
Kunene and McKenzie were later appointed senior managers at Central Rand Gold - where James was CEO - in charge of dealing with the Soweto community affected by the proposed mining.
Kunene said he had since become co-owner of "about three, four businesses", including a new mining venture "elsewhere in Africa" which he said could grow to be worth R700-million.
"Our mentors - Greg and Gavin - have taught us to diversify: We have been made by white people - we are not ashamed to say that - because they celebrate when you turn your life around."
Mariette Lifferink - the former spokesman for the Soweto community affected by the CRG mine - submitted formal complaints to the government and the Legal Resource Centre last year, alleging that Kunene had broken promises to the community, and had "advocated hatred against me".
Kunene denies the claims.
Despite the criticism, hundreds of Kunene's 806 friends on Facebook are teenagers and students, who have written messages in support of his lavish lifestyle.
Kenny Kunene buys 1,5 Million Car!
A month after provoking public fury over his R700 000 birthday party, former gangster Kenny Kunene has ordered a yellow Lamborghini valued at around R1.5-million and is in the market for a helicopter.
'We have been made by white people - we are not ashamed to say that' He says his party - at which sushi was served on the bodies of half-naked models - was nothing compared with the R800 000 he splurged on another bash in his Free State home town of Odendaalsrus to thank friends and ancestors in August last year.
Then he arrived in a helicopter for the traditional slaughtering of a cow.
This is the man who dares South Africans to find fault with his millions and his partying excesses.
Just four years ago, Kunene says he had less than R10 000 in assets, had to hitchhike to meetings and sometimes slept in business partner Gayton McKenzie's car.
Now he is a part owner of a mining and entertainment empire and has partied with celebrities like musician John Legend and French football coach Arsene Wenger.
He and McKenzie, also an ex-convict, park their cars together so that their personalised numberplates read "X Con" and "So what?"
While Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi has called him a "hyena" who "spits in the face of the poor", Kunene claims he is a "new generation role model" for South Africa's youth.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Kunene, 40, acknowledged that public speculation and suspicion were rife about how he jumped from poverty to riches in just four years.
He spent 10 years in jail before his 2003 release and then starting his business empire in 2006, he says.
"The reason why everybody is questioning my income is maybe they have limited knowledge of the business world. Or they are lazy - they like salaries and to bask in the sun."
Born in Kutlwanong township and raised by his grandparents and unemployed mother, Kunene now lives in a reported R12-million Sandton apartment, while his wife and son live in Odendaalsrus.
He was jailed in Grootvlei Prison in the Free State for six years for fraud in 1997, having spent four years awaiting trial.
There he risked his life to expose gross corruption and abuse to the Jali Commission.
He said he plotted his rise to riches there while literally on his knees clipping the toenails and calluses of a prison warder.
This week, he revealed more details of his criminal history when he committed sometimes violent crimes as part of a gang while working as a Klerksdorp teacher.
In what he described as "the worst thing I ever did", he said that, enraged that a fellow gang member had heightened their risk of arrest, he shot him in the thigh as they left the scene of an armed robbery.
He admitted that he had tried to sell ivory illegally in Pretoria in 1995 and told of how he had grabbed a tourist around the neck to shield himself from police guns aimed at him before his arrest. That case was later dropped.
"We used to get involved in fraud, car theft, robberies. Now, when we do our talks to kids and schools, we say, 'When we were criminals, we couldn't enjoy our cars, we couldn't drive them in the daylight.'"
Under threat to his life from prisoners and corrupt warders, he said he once carried a teapot spiked with rat poison to a panel of Jali Commission advocates - including Jerome Brauns, SC, who later defended President Jacob Zuma - but warned them not to drink it.
"The 50m I walked with that kettle was the longest of my life - and the decision I made to warn Advocate Brauns was the best of my life."
For his success, Kunene credits McKenzie, the ANC's empowerment policies "beyond tenders", "foreign investors" and the teaching and support of two "mentors", mine boss and philanthropist Greg James and telecommunications tycoon Gavin Varejes.
He said McKenzie found him counselling troubled pupils at Calculus Secondary School in Bloemfontein, at a salary of R3000 a month, in 2006 and proposed they join forces to sell McKenzie's book, The Choice, to schools.
"We went everywhere. Sometimes we'd sleep in the car when we could not (afford) a hotel.''
He said that James, inspired by the book's anti-crime message, bought 80000 copies of two versions of the book in June 2007 to give to Western Cape schools, thus providing him and McKenzie with the cash to start "a small mine consultancy business".
The pair were later appointed senior managers at Central Rand Gold (CRG) - where James was CEO - in charge of dealing with the Soweto community affected by the proposed mining.
He said he had since become co-owner of "about three, four businesses", including a new mining venture "elsewhere in Africa", which he said could grow to be worth R700-million.
"Our mentors, Greg and Gavin, have taught us to diversify. We have been made by white people - we are not ashamed to say that - because they celebrate when you turn your life around."
He gave a long list of his charities, from a burial fund for "our heroes" in the MK Veterans' Association to university bursaries for 12 Soweto students, whom he set up in "brand-new flats".
At his five-star club, ZAR, in Sandton, the Sunday Times found Kunene, dressed in one of his Aigner designer suits, being debriefed by staff he had sent to Durban to find a site for a ZAR franchise. He flaunted his history by holding a giant champagne bottle behind gold-painted "prison bars".
Said Kunene: "I landed in a helicopter in my area to motivate young people - some of you will say I am boasting. I am not boasting, I am boosting."
In his first legal drama since prison, Kunene this week rushed to resign his position as director of at least five private companies - having learnt it was illegal from newspaper revelations for convicted fraudsters to be directors of companies.
Kunene said he discovered his "honest mistake" after newspaper revelations two weeks ago revealed that Tony Yengeni, the former ANC chief whip and fraudster, had contravened the section by becoming the director of six companies.
No person with a compulsory prison term for an offence "involving dishonesty" may be a director of a company, according to the SA Companies Act.
Kunene told the Sunday Times: "I didn't know that was the rule - when I read this thing about Yengeni, I started resigning all my directorships."
Among the companies he is resigning from include African Australian Minerals and Energy Ltd, Dirbyn Investment Holdings and Dirbyn Publications - saying he would lodge the papers yesterday.
KENNY KUNENE, INSPIRED by PATRICE MOTSEPE, MAKES MONEY AND LIVES LARGE Defiant businessman Kenny Kunene says the wealthy have the right to spend their money as they please, without fear of being bullied.
Now known as the Sushi King, Kunene told City Press on Friday that he made his millions in mining and venture capital after his release from Grootvlei prison in 2003.
He is adamant that there is nothing crass about spending R700 000 on a party and eating sushi off the body of a half-naked woman.
“In the civilised world, there are men and women called models. I paid the women to model. This thing of a human sushi platter happens all over the world. If it doesn’t happen in South Africa, then I’m a trendsetter.
“I am a man of style. I look anywhere where there is style and try to be different. Some people play golf, I party. That’s how I relax. So who am I exploiting?”
It is a mystery how a man who did prison time for fraud could become so rich in a few short years.
The father of three says he and his business partner Gayton McKenzie, whom he met in jail, started off by setting up a publishing company. They later sold it and got into mining and, later, established an investment consulting company.
Kunene is a director of companies that include Afri-Oz Resources, African Australian Minerals and Energy, Dartingo Trading 213, and Dirbyn Investment Holdings.
He says his companies invest in mining and fuel in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
The 40-year-old drew the ire of Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi for spending R700?000 on his birthday bash.
Vavi said the behaviour of members of the new elite was an insult and amounted to spitting in the face of the poor.
Kunene says: “Why should a black person, when successful, be viewed as having made his money from tenders, or through questionable means? “(Vavi) doesn’t know me, yet he thinks I’m a tenderpreneur.”
Kunene keeps a flat in Sandton and a house in Welkom, where he grew up. He won’t say where his apartment is located, but it is apparently at the exclusive Sandton Emperor in Morningside, where flats cost an average of R16 million.
He also keeps a permanent room at the Radisson Blu Hotel, where the ZAR lounge he co-owns with McKenzie is located.
He refuses to say how many sports cars he owns, save that his favourite brands are Porsche and Lamborghini. His fleet includes a Mercedes SLK 55, an Audi R8, a Porsche Cayenne GTS, a Porsche Panamera and a Porsche911.
“During apartheid, (wealthy) black people were afraid to show their money.
Vavi is saying we must regard ourselves as third- and fourth-class citizens.”
Kunene says he turned to the life of crime and hustling at a young age to make a living. He used to move gold for smugglers in his small mining hometown.
Even after graduating from university he continued with various criminal activities, mainly fraud, because his teacher’s salary was not enough to support his extended family.
“I had dreams. I looked up to honourable people such as Patrice Motsepe and Cyril Ramaphosa, and said to myself, ‘if they can do it so can I’.”
His public spat with Vavi seems to have earned him more friends than detractors. On Friday alone he got more than 150 friendship requests on Facebook, and messages of support.
“Some of us really look up to you. Keep that fire burning.
Haters will always be there (and) I’m sure you know that otherwise you wouldn’t (be where) you are right now.
What inspires me most (is that) you are a billionaire, and no cent from tenders.
You rock,” Ntsiki Ben Ntuli wrote on Kunene’s page this week. - City Press
There has been a bit of a tit-for-tat war going on in the South African press between two outspoken men.
One, Kenny Kunene, a nightclub owner, held a lavish 40th birthday party recently, during which sushi was reportedly served on the bodies of half-naked women and guests drank expensive imported whisky and champagne.
Leading government and African National Congress leaders attended the party, according to press reports. Other newspapers show photos of the flamboyant Kunene standing in front of his expensive sports car, which has “So What” written on the number plates. This kind of in-your-face conspicuous consumption has “sickened” the main labur union leader, COSATU’s Zwelinzima Vavi, who says this kind of behavior from the new black elite sets a bad example and insults the poor of South Africa. Kunene says he spent more than $100,000 on the one-night bash - in a country where unemployment is rife and many families struggle to put food on the table. My question is - how much “bling” is too much? Are African high rollers judged more harshly than, say, big-spending Russian oligarchs? Or is Vavi correct in saying that South Africa’s rich should be more circumspect with their wealth? Posted by: CNN Correspondent, Robyn Curnow
KENNY KUNENE IN NEW YORK TIMES
Partying Amid Poverty Stirs South Africa DebateBy CELIA W. DUGGER
SANDTON, South Africa — Kenny Kunene, a former gangster turned businessman, gave what he called “the mother of all parties” for his 40th birthday. With his small paunch protruding from a white tuxedo and his eyes hidden behind Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, he ate sushi from the belly of a woman who was wearing nothing but black lingerie and high heels while hundreds of guests looked on.
As the revelers got tipsy on his liquor, he says he treated the most important among them — including Zizi Kodwa, President Jacob Zuma’s stylish spokesman, and Julius Malema, the rabble-rousing leader of the governing party’s youth wing — to $1,300 bottles of Dom Pérignon. Like the American rappers he emulates, Mr. Kunene himself swigged a bottle of Armand de Brignac Champagne that goes for more than $1,500 at his posh nightclub, ZAR, perched on the roof of a five-star hotel.
His October bash here in Sandton, a Johannesburg suburb often described as the wealthiest square mile in Africa, and another sushi-eating party that Mr. Kunene hosted recently in Cape Town, have turned him into a peculiarly South African sensation. His antics set off raucous bickering in the governing alliance about the conspicuous consumption of a politically networked black elite in a country where the majority of young blacks do not even have jobs. Zwelinzima Vavi, leader of Cosatu, the powerful trade union federation allied with the governing African National Congress, accused Mr. Kunene of “spitting on the face of the poor” and declared that parties where people who have gotten rich in dubious ways flaunt their wealth “turn my stomach.”
Mr. Kunene, who says he supports the A.N.C.’s Youth League with his time and money, promptly retorted that his was “honest money spent on honest fun.” He describes his success as proof of the nation’s democracy, and he told Mr. Vavi, who is also black: “You remind me of what it felt like to live under apartheid. You are telling me, a black man, what I can and cannot do with my life.” The Kunene story has crystallized a recurring question about life in post-apartheid South Africa: Is the accumulation and exhibition of such wealth a sign that blacks have finally arrived after an era when whites hogged the high life, or is it evidence of a moral decay undermining Nelson Mandela’s once great liberation movement? “It raises in such wonderfully stark terms what freedom is and what one does with it,” said Jonny Steinberg, an author and one of the many newspaper columnists who commented on the events. “The idea that one uses it to get rich, and ostentatiously so, and that this is the most important dividend of freedom, is very powerful.” In recent months, the spectacle of eating sushi from a woman’s body — perhaps familiar to Americans from Samantha’s escapades on “Sex and the City” — has been a source of both lurid fascination and ridicule here. A cartoon by the Mail & Guardian’s Zapiro, titled “The Last Sushi,” depicts a naked woman lying on a long table with well-known businessmen and politicians feasting on the fishy bits that decorate her curves. That Mr. Kunene, a small-time player in South African politics, has vaulted onto the front pages underscores how salient the issue of economic inequality has become in South Africa, a country that by some estimates has the worst disparities of wealth in the world. But the focus on Mr. Kunene, nicknamed the Sushi King by headline writers, is also a tribute to his obvious gifts for self-promotion and self-reinvention. He was raised by his unemployed mother (an evangelical faith healer), his grandfather (a retired English teacher), and his grandmother (a midwife and the family’s only earner) in a black township outside of Odendaalsrus in what is now the Free State. The family could never afford to give him a birthday party, he said, and he always craved luxuries. When he was a teenager during apartheid, he said he and his friends picked out the houses and cars in wealthy white areas they fantasized would one day be theirs. He dreamed of Porsches. “The objective was to overthrow the government and take everything that the white man had,” he said. Like his grandfather, he became a high school English teacher. To earn extra money, he opened a small saloon, eavesdropped on gangsters and joined them, hijacking cars, robbing businesses and dreaming up ways to trick people out of their money, he said. “My heart was not into armed robberies,” he said. “My heart was more into fraud because I’m a thinker.” But he was caught and convicted in 1997 of helping run a Ponzi scheme. His case alone listed more than 1,900 victims, he said. He served six years in prison. After his release, he went into business with Gayton McKenzie, a bank robber he had befriended behind bars. They sold a book that Mr. McKenzie wrote about quitting a life of crime, and marketed Mr. McKenzie’s motivational speeches to schools and corporate groups. They invested their earnings in a fish distribution business, Mr. Kunene said, and then started working as consultants to diamond and gold mining companies, helping manage testy relations with restive local communities and navigate the shoals of government regulation in a country governed by a black majority. Last year, Mr. Kunene and Mr. McKenzie helped Gold Fields, a major gold producer, retain its mining rights to the South Deep mine southwest of Johannesburg, which the company describes as “one of the greatest undeveloped ore bodies in the world.” “It’s a lot of political lobbying work,” explained Sven Lunsche, a Gold Fields spokesman. At Mr. Kunene’s swanky apartment in Sandton, a snapshot of him with President Zuma is displayed in the living room. On his iPad, he flicked through photographs taken at his birthday party, showing pictures of him with the men he called “Zizi and Julius” — Mr. Zuma’s spokesman and the Youth League leader, Mr. Malema. At the Cape Town party on Jan. 29, Mr. Malema was quoted as saying that Mr. Kunene’s club belonged to the A.N.C., but he later issued a statement insisting that he had said only that black people have a right to own a club in “predominantly white territory.” Mr. Malema’s comments prompted Gwede Mantashe, the party’s secretary general, to starchily insist that the A.N.C. “is not into nightclubs or partying, but it is a revolutionary movement. We furthermore reiterate our condemnation to the act of serving sushi on a woman’s body.”
Kenny Kunene, Lil Kim and Fistaz Mixwell
Mr. Kunene this month bowed to his party’s wishes and foreswore sushi parties, but he could not resist noting that in South Africa, the rainbow nation, “I ate sushi off a black girl in Johannesburg. In Cape Town, I ate it off a white girl. I was intending to eat it off an Indian girl in Durban.” Mr. Kunene has leapt into a life of fame and money, but often on Mondays he gets into one of his Porsches and makes the short drive to the poor and working-class township of Alexandra. “I don’t forget where I come from,” he said.
Kenny Kunene and Girl Friend Eda Rose
There he drinks with the regulars at a small bar, the Stoop, and eats a plate of tripe like his mother used to make. House music pumps from speakers, echoing over the township hillside, sparkling with tiny lights. Last Monday, he left his nightclub, with its purple velvet couches, mirrored wall and sensational views of the Sandton skyline, dressed to impress in $2,000 jeans (“Billionaire brand,” he said, “the most expensive in the world”), pointy-toed purple Italian shoes and a matching belt. As the evening wore on at the bar in Alex, as the township is sometimes called, men in shirtsleeves who had just finished work gave way to young women with glossy lips who were in a party mood. Mr. Kunene, sitting in a molded plastic chair, nursed his Belvedere vodka and soda and updated his Facebook page. “Chilling at the Stoop,” he wrote. “The township is the bomb.” Instantly, he had a rush of responses from some of the thousands of people who have added him as a friend since his birthday party made news. “Can I join u?” posted one. “Lucky you,” wrote another. “Why was I not invited?” asked a third. “Is there sushi?” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/world/africa/15southafrica.html?_r=2&emc=eta1&pagewanted=all Kenny Kunene's chairman for ZAR, Tycoon Gayton McKenzie totals R2-million R8 Following his miraculous escape last weekend when he wrecked a R2-million supercar outside Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, controversial businessman Gayton McKenzie already has his eyes on a multi-million rand Maybach limousine.
McKenzie, the chairman of Kenny Kunene's growing nightclub empire ZAR, was travelling in a convoy of flashy cars on the R61 to Ngcobo when his white Audi R8 Spyder flew off the road, crashed through a fence and came to a stop in a field. In the process, the vehicle knocked down an Eskom power pylon, cutting electricity to parts of Ngcobo. In the car with him was former Miss SA Teen Moloko McKenzie, who was knocked unconscious. Thankfully McKenzie managed to free himself from the totalled sports car, pulled Moloko free of the seat and carried her to safety. McKenzie, a former prisoner, his business partner Kunene and others were returning to Gauteng after attending the wedding of President Jacob Zuma's daughter Dudu and businessman Lonwabo Sambudla over the Easter weekend The accident was witnessed by several in the convoy, and Kunene was following the R8 in his black Lamborghini convertible. "We're all just glad that Gayton is okay. It was absolutely horrifying but the important thing is that he is okay," said Kunene. "He has hurt his leg really badly and cannot drive at the moment. So after he attends meetings he goes straight home to relax because he needs to recover," said Kunene. "Gayton was simply happy to be alive," added Kunene. -Saturday Star May 1 2011 at 11:26am By Sameer Naik Kenny Kunene Mr Sushi Mansion South Africa Living Life To the Fullest - Majozi!!!
Kenny Kunene Interview
Whites made me what I am - Sushi king
" I know that there are a lot of top people in the ANC and in business who support Malema privately, and yet they dare not show their public support for him just because they are afraid of losing tenders
These people are hypocrites. They are the sort of people who spend a fortune... then turn around to criticise me for doing the same
His reality TV show, So What, debuts on Saturday on e.tv at 7.30pm"
"SUSHI King" Kenny Kunene has attributed his success in business to white people. In an interview with Sowetan at the new Southern Sun Hotel in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, Kunene, who had a whole camera crew in tow, shooting his every move, was for the first time quite open about his climb to the top of the social ladder and the business world. Famous for eating sushi off semi-naked women, the controversial businessman says black people, who have become his fierce critics, did not help him escape poverty. Instead, whites did when they opened doors for him after 18 months of unemployment after he had come out of jail. "When I came out of jail, I had no job for 18 months, and when I eventually got a job at a private school earning only R3,000 a month (before mysteriously clinching business deals) it was through white people. "I was made by white people and no black person made me, including those who are now criticising me," Kunene said yesterday. He said when he was unemployed and struggling most people isolated themselves from him. The tycoon also said defiantly that no matter what, he would continue to support ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema in the face of various charges brought against him by the ANC. Kunene also said he owed nobody an apology for living a good life, including throwing lavish parties. He had worked hard for his money, and, contrary to public perceptions, had actually spent some of this money on charity, especially in the townships. "Some people called me and criticised me for supporting Malema publicly in the face of the charges. My answer is that I will continue supporting Malema because when I was criticised (for the parties) he publicly defended me, and therefore I am not now going to leave him in the cold.
Kenny Kunene and ANC Youth League Leader Julius Malema
"I am supporting him in return because I appreciate what he did. "And, for a fact, I know that there are a lot of top people in the ANC and in business who support Malema privately, and yet they dare not show their public support for him just because they are afraid of losing tenders. "I do not have a tender, even though I would love to have one. So I do not worry about losing a tender by supporting someone like Malema, who supported me in my hour of need," Kunene declared, throwing up his hands in anger. The controversial businessman reserved most of his criticism for his detractors, who often speak out about his lavish parties, as they often say the expensive parties take place in a society characterised by immense inequalities between the rich and the poor, and he would serve society much better if he invested among the poor by, for example, building houses. "These people are hypocrites. They are the sort of people who spend a fortune on expensive whisky, including buying a 21-year-old bottle, which as a businessman I actually like. "The problem is they then turn around to criticise me for doing exactly the same. "I am not the only businessman throwing expensive parties. "My crime is that I am an ex-convict, and the fact that I go public about the parties, while they do it in the privacy of their homes. And besides, who says that you should work hard to earn money to give to the poor? "Today in my office I have piles of proposals from young black people who would never dream of going to the same people criticising me. Those young people have confidence in me and not in those people because they know they are useless, and will not help them." There are now several versions of how Kunene made his fortune. The popular one is that when he and his business partner Gayton McKenzie were released from prison, McKenzie penned a book about his life inside. Kunene helped him sell the book as McKenzie's right-hand man when McKenzie held motivational talks at schools discouraging pupils from crime. "I am loyal to my friends. Gayton and I were best friends in prison, and we still are outside prison, and are today business partners. It is the same loyalty that calls for me to support Malema because he supported me also." The businessman's new reality TV show, So What, debuts on Saturday on e.tv at 7.30pm.
Kenny Kunene's Mine closed -
Kenny Kunene loses mining licence
In May this year, the Sunday Times reported that an explosive forensic report by Nexus Forensic Services, which was commissioned by Puno Gold, CRG's empowerment partner as well as interviews with several current and former CRG employees, revealed that: - CRG's Australian chairman Michael McMahon admitted the company had previously misled investors and urged his chief executive not to make "untrue assertions"; - Kunene and McKenzie used their political connections to get the mining rights in record time; - Companies linked to the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association scooped deals from CRG worth more than R40-million; - Kunene went from selling fish from the boot of his car to earning R150,000 a month as a stand-in chief executive, while McKenzie earned R243,000 a month, also as acting chief executive; and - Johan du Toit and his wife, Anne, loaned Kunene R1-million to help him launch his nightclub ZAR. The forensic report, which was given to the Hawks in February this year, reportedly concluded that "there would appear to be grounds for a case to be answered for fraud". Since March, the mine and other industry stakeholders have held four meetings with the Department of Water Affairs to clarify and agree on the technical principles, funding allocation and timing of the implementation of an interim solution to the acid mine drainage problem that was experienced in the central basin of the Witwatersrand area. The mine was also accused of failing to disclose to shareholders, who have sunk R1.67-billion into it, that the government was considering shutting it down. The mine was shut down by the State on Monday. CRG raised more than R1-billion after listing on the London and Joburg stock exchanges in 2007 for a mine that was meant to improve the lives of Soweto's poor.
http://mg.co.za/article/2011-09-27-kenny-kunene-loses-mining-licence Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has cancelled the mining rights for top businessman Kenny Kunene's Central Rand Gold Mine, the department said on Tuesday. The decision was made last Friday and papers were served on the mine's office in Johannesburg on Monday, spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said. "They were only dealing [with] a tenth of the promises they made to the minister. She found it not satisfactory and cancelled the mining licence." Khumalo said the rights had been awarded to the mine based on certain agreements it had undertaken to keep. These included implementing a work and social labour programme and contributing to the socioeconomic development of residents in the area. Khumalo said the mine could appeal the cancellation. It would however need to first deal with the department's internal processes before approaching the courts. The mine was not immediately available for comment. Kunene -- who owns the upmarket ZAR nightclub in Greenpoint, Cape Town -- attracted media attention for holding his version of the ancient Japanese custom of Nyotaimori, or "body sushi" at the nightclub. He also spent an estimated R700 000 on his birthday party in October last year. - Sapa
Kenny Kunene Girlfriend Takangwane Khanyile from Swaziland ‘Sushi King’ Kenny Kunene’s alleged Swazi girlfriend, Takangwane Khanyile has admitted that she and the South African multi-millionaire are an item. Khanyile who relocated to South Africa two years ago to pursue her studies in Pretoria said she has been dating the mining mogul from July last year.
She admitted reading an article about herself and Kunene in Drum magazine and announced that he was just on his way to her apartment to take her out shopping. She said Kunene was taking her shopping for an outfit for the Sixties Party featuring a performance by US artist John Legend this weekend in Mpumalanga. She will attend the party with Kunene. She said: “Yes we are dating. I’m actually waiting for him right now. We are going to pick an outfit for me to wear at the Sixties Party.” She did her primary and secondary school at St Francis in Mbabane before she relocated to South Africa. “I don’t care what anyone can say. The media can say all they want but I know what I know.” She met Kunene at his club, Club ZAR on July 29. “We met and the rest, as they say, became history,” she stated. Kunene referred to the 20 year old as a friend in the interview with Drum. In the magazine, the two appear holding hands. history “We are dating with Kenny. I met him at his Club Zar, on July 29 and the rest is history,” she insisted. Kunene denied all those claims saying they are just friends. Khanyile’s father owns the famous Ingwe Mabala Hotel at Ngwenya. Although she attends parties, she manages to always keep a low profile. Asked whether she wants to marry Kunene, she said those weren’t part of her plans. She would only marry a decent man, insinuating in a subtle way that Kunene is not. “Marriage isn’t part of the agenda here. I see myself marrying someone else.”
Kenny Kunene and Swazi Girlfriend Takangwane Khanyile "Taka"
MBABANE - Controversial South African multi-millionaire Kenny Kunene is in the latest Drum magazine pictured walking hand in hand with a Swazi girl. The picture of the pair was taken during the Gay Parade which took place two weeks ago in Johannesburg. The event is attended yearly by the lesbian and gay community and those in support of their rights. This year it was graced by some of South Africa’s popular personalities who included Amstel Maboa of 3SUM fame, afro jazz star Lira and Simphiwe Dana to name but a few. The magazine says that the lady, identified as Taka is Kunene’s new girlfriend. However, when called for comment, the businessman denied that they are an item. "Yes I was with her and her friends because I didn’t want to attend the event with my PA as he is gay and I am straight. The girls, who I met while in Swaziland, asked me to take them there and I did just that," he said. Kunene visited the country in August this year for the Bikers Party which took place at the Mavuso Sports Café in Manzini. Since then, there has been a lot of negativity regarding his visit. He has also come under serious criticism for having shown clips of him in bed with four girls during his stay in the country. This appeared on his new reality show ‘So What’ which airs every Saturday on etv. KENNY KUNENE 41st BIRTHDAY IN PICTURES
The king of sushi Kenny Kunene threw a big birthday party to celebrate his 41th birthday party at Capellos in Nelspruit at the weekend. Expensive champaign flowed like water but this time around the party was very different than the one he organised in the previous year where he splashed R 700, 000 in just one night. The guest list included SABC 1 crew Tazz Ngida, DJ Tira, Mpumalanga entrepeneur Mash Maliba, Zolisa Xaluva and Thabiso Molamu from Generations. DJ Ganyani who has just released a new album tiltled The family took the crowd to another level when he rocked the crowd with some of Mzansi's new songs but it was his song with Thiwe Get Over You that made the women 'get down'. DJ Tira also gave a strong performance when he collaborated with Joocy on the vocals for I give you my love from his new album. Kunene was dancing on the floor almost the whole night but this time but he did not eat sushi on top of women bodies.
Gaddafi-themed birthday party for Kenny Kunene South African tycoon
Kenny Kunene celebrates 41st by dressing up as the deposed leader, accompanied by models in camouflage bikinis
His 40th birthday party caused uproar when he ate sushi off half-naked models. His 41st was no less colourful or provocative. Flamboyant South African businessman Kenny Kunene celebrated by dressing up as one of his idols, Muammar Gaddafi, in a flowing cream robe. He surrounded himself with six models wearing camouflage-pattern bikinis and brandishing fake AK47 rifles – an apparent reference to Gaddafi's infamous "Amazonian guard". The multimillion-rand celebrations, held last week in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, also featured pictures of the deposed Libyan leader on huge TV screens. Kunene said he was inspired by Nelson Mandela's loyalty to Gaddafi as a supporter of the liberation struggle in Africa. "I'm very political," Kunene told the Guardian. "I looked at what's happening in Libya and know Gaddafi was overthrown for oil by America and Britain. I felt that I wanted to celebrate Gaddafi as a living legend for contributing to the liberation we enjoy today. I was celebrating him as a father of the liberation struggle. Unfortunately he died the same week." Asked about his Gaddafi-style costume, Kunene said: "I felt I needed to celebrate him in the way that he lived. I loved his outfits. I don't care if they say they were tasteless. He believed in Africa. He was a man of style and he knew how to dress. "People at the party were excited. They said, 'You are forever a role model for us'. He added: "He was the only president I knew who had female bodyguards. I don't denigrate women; I respect them. Girls fight to be around me at parties because I give them a lot of career opportunities and pay them for it. Not just black girls but white girls too." Gaddafi's death "really hurt," Kunene said. "He died like a martyr. He did not run away from his country. He said he would die there and he did. "The man had long years as a ruler but I don't think the world has been exposed to the good he did for his country. It is Britain and America who create dictators because the leaders dare not step down for fear of prosecution. "The international courts have never prosecuted Britain and America for the people they kill in oil-rich countries. I don't hate British people, I don't hate American people. I just hate the governments' way of doing things in other countries." Nightclub owner Kunene's birthday party last year, costing more than 700,000 rand (or £63,000) triggered a national debate. Images of him eating sushi off half-naked young women earned him the soubriquet "sushi king" and came to symbolise the alleged excesses of South Africa's new black elite. This time, however, he claimed that there were only two men in the world who understood the protection of women: himself and Gaddafi. Thousands of township residents attended the party, the Star, Johannesburg, reported and were served African cuisine such including as dumplings, tripe and chicken feet. Kunene, a former teacher who spent six years in prison for fraud, has apparently planned no fewer than six birthday parties. He is not alone inexpressing sympathy for Libya's fallen autocrat. Floyd Shivambu, spokesman for the African National Congress Youth League, said last week: "Brother Leader was ruthlessly killed by rebels armed by Nato forces, who invaded Libya because of its natural resources." The fact that he was killed in combat was an "inspiration to many freedom fighters across the continent and the world", Shivambu added.