Sihle Dlamini: the Pastor with a E300K agenda

Sihle Dlamini.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the name of the country's golden boy. Dlamini is the King's personal interpreter, one time Assistant Private Secretary and head of estate in the King's office. In between being an errand boy for the monarchy, he doubles as a pastor at the all-powerful Jesus Calls Worship Centre. And what is more, he is a businessman of controversial acclaim. In the mid 2000 Dlamini was some regular commoner interpreting for Apostle Kasaro at the JC. Legend has it that on seeing him at the official opening of the JC the King liked his interpreting abilities and recruited him to the king’s office.  

From thereon, Dlamini rose in prominence and prestige in the country. Soon allegations of theft followed. Over the years he has struggled to shrug off the suspicion that he is corrupt or that he benefits from corruption. To be fair to him even his accusers have not done themselves any favours by not putting incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing.

Exactly seven days ago the Times of Eswatini quoted him protesting that he was no thief. In its 24 October publication, the newspaper stated that Dlamini had told Qhawe Mamba's Channel Yemaswati that all allegations implicating him to some form of corruption were a scheme by his enemies to destroy his good name. Dlamini was responding to allegations levelled by controversial Prophet, Gcina Mtsetfwa, who accused him of embezzling money meant for the refurbishment of the king's palaces. Dlamini is not new to such allegations and definitely not a stranger to controversy.

He has been linked to numerous allegations of fraud committed against his master and the state. Dlamini's profligate lifestyle has raised eyebrows and fueled speculation around his source of wealth. It didn't help that he once bragged in his church that he will build roads and bridges for free to prove to his haters that God has blessed him. Only in a banana state like ours would a private citizen make such bold claims without the tax office descending on him to check the source of his wealth and conduct a full-scale lifestyle audit. 

As a result, Dlamini has accumulated untold and ill gotten wealth he is happy to brag about. And yet, despite insurmountable documentary evidence to this effect, he continues to avoid prosecution at every turn. The Bridge is in possession of bank statements dating as far back as 2009 illustrating fraudulent transactions undertaken by Dlamni from Swaziland Airways.

Dlamini is not and has never been an employee of Swaziland Airways and yet there are numerous transactions in which he misappropriated funds from the entity. One particular transaction, an amount of E 300, 000. 00 has been the source of investigations by the Royal Eswatini Police Services, the Central Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit and the Anti-Corruption Commission. Curiously, the investigations have yielded no results as Dlamini remains a free man.

The 300k

Dlamini is considered a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) and classified as “high risk” in terms of the AMLCFT Act and Exchange Control Order. Financial institutions are obligated to put in place measures to ensure that their high risk client transactions are closely monitored for money laundering related activities, among other key requirements.

In 2009, in an elaborate scheme to circumvent exchange control requirements, Dlamini allegedly embezzled E300k from Swaziland Airways under the pretext of travelling allowance. He presented a cheque (in the currency of dollars) and requested that the funds be deposited into his account with one of the financial institutions. It is a requirement that a client who presents dollars before a financial institution, requesting conversion to local currency, must present a travelling document, air ticket and any other documentation that will show that indeed the client is travelling abroad.

In the alternative, a conversion may take place on the condition that the client presents a travelling document that illustrates that the client has travelled. This must be done within a period of thirty days upon return from the international trip. Dlamini did not present any of these documents. In fact, he used his “political exposure” to ensure that the cheque was cleared, and deposited into his account.

This transaction triggered a series of investigations from the SFIU, police and Anti-Corruption Commission. The ongoing, and unending investigations have unearthed further illicit transactions in Sihle’s business dealings. In 2020, Dlamini purchased hotel furniture amounting to about E1Million for his Open house Boutique Hotel located in Manzini.

This time, the Revenue Authority joined the investigation.  It was alleged that Sihle had under-declared the value of the goods. As with previous investigations, it yielded no results, allowing the slippery Pastor to once again evade the not so long arm of law enforcement agencies. This surely bags the question; are law enforcement agencies in bed or afraid of Dlamini?

Has he amassed that much political influence so as to sway investigations, even when he has stolen from his master, the King? One thing is for sure, sooner than later, the proverbial chickens will come home to roost because despite the endless effort to make this case go away, the matter always seems to resurface. This publication has it in good authority that Dlamini dealings are under the microscope yet again. Even his family trust account, Hawane Family Trust, cannot hide his illicit dealings.

The Bridge called Dlamini for comments on this story and he didn't pick his phone.