Gayton McKenzie is a South African motivational speaker who came to public attention in 2002 when he and a small group of inmates smuggled secret video cameras into Grootvlei Prison in the Free State province.
Kenny Kunene has ordered a yellow Lamborghini valued at R1.5 Million and is in the market for a helicopter
The motivation for this was McKenzie's shock at witnessing the nine-hour rape of a fourteen year old white boy. McKenzie, who grew up during Apartheid, and was classified racially as a "coloured", had entered prison as a racist. This event, one of innumerable rapes that he witnessed during his more than seven years in jail, changed his view.
Corrupt wardens, who had sold the boy to a rapist gang, told McKenzie that there was "not enough proof" to do anything about the rape. This was in spite of the boy's physical appearance.
McKenzie, who, until then had been a committed criminal, having entered jail for, among other crimes, bank robbery, and who was one of the prison's most senior gang members, turned his back on crime.
XCon So What Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie Picture
The secret video footage showed numerous acts of warden corruption, including buying prison food, supplying drugs and liquor, smuggling a loaded pistol into jail and, finally, selling a juvenile for the purpose of sex to another prisoner, who was also part of the video team. When the footage hit national television, and was also screened internationally, McKenzie's team became knows as the "Grootvlei Four".
Gayton McKenzie Swizz Beatz Kenny Kunene Picture
They were subsequently victimised in prison, with several attempts made on their lives. Three of the four men (other video makers' identities had been successfully kept secret) were finally released from prison after obtaining remissions of sentence for their exposure work. McKenzie went on to marry Nicolett Joubert.
Kenny Kunene Louis Figo and Gayton McKenzie Picture
She was an advocate he met while still in jail when she was sent by the South African Presidency as a member of the Jali Commission tasked with investigating corruption in South African prisons.
After his release he went on a national campaign to combat ever-higher levels of crime in South Africa. His talks to school children were sponsored by a security company, and he is still serving as an advocate against crime. Thus far, he has reached 1.6 million South African school children of all ages. He was also voted the country's top corporate speaker for the last three years.
After an extraordinary life of crime, prison and redemption, Gayton McKenzie is today one of the most well-loved and sought-after motivational speakers in the country and has addressed millions of school kids, parents and businesspeople with his hard-hitting, entertaining, engaging and inspiring talk. A deal to produce a film based on his biography has also been signed and filming will commence this year. The success of the film will contribute to a drug rehab centre he is planning to build in the township where he grew up, and where he continues to do charity work for the children in the area. He has worked with various corporate sponsors such as Chubb and Nike, and is the spokesperson for the JAG Sports and Education Foundation which is bringing hope to kids in underprivileged areas. Gayton is also the Group Executive for Central Rand Gold, where he is in charge of community participation and social investment.
Gayton McKenzie came to controversial public attention in 2002 when he and a small group of fellow inmates smuggled secret video cameras into Grootvlei Prison in the Free State province.
The motivation for this was Gayton’s shock at witnessing the nine-hour rape of a fourteen year old white boy. McKenzie, who grew up during Apartheid, and was classified racially as a "coloured", had entered prison as a racist. This event, one of innumerable rapes that he witnessed during his more than seven years in jail, changed his view. Corrupt wardens, who had sold the boy to a rapist gang, told McKenzie that there was "not enough proof" to do anything about the rape. This was in spite of the boy's physical appearance.
Gayton, who, until then had been a committed criminal, having entered jail for, among other crimes, bank robbery, and who was one of the prison's most senior gang members, turned his back on crime. The secret video footage showed numerous acts of warden corruption, including buying prison food, supplying drugs and liquor, smuggling a loaded pistol into jail and, finally, selling a juvenile for the purpose of sex to another prisoner, who was also part of the video team. When the footage hit national television, and was also screened internationally, McKenzie's team became known as the "Grootvlei Four". They were subsequently victimised in prison, with several attempts made on their lives. Three of the four men (other video makers' identities had been successfully kept secret) were finally released from prison after obtaining remissions of sentence for their exposure work. McKenzie went on to marry Nicolett Joubert. She was an advocate he met while still in jail when she was sent by the South African Presidency as a member of the Jali Commission tasked with investigating corruption in South African prisons.
After his release he went on a national campaign to combat ever-higher levels of crime in South Africa. His talks to school children were sponsored by a security company, and he is still serving as an advocate against crime. Thus far, he has reached 2 million South African school children of all ages. Thanks, in part, to his great exuberance and charisma, he was also voted the country's top corporate speaker for the last three years.
What Gayton offers as a corporate speaker:
Gayton’s talks examine the following themes, among many others:
• His own personal journey and what led to his changed views on life
• The legacy of crime in South Africa
• The question of racial division in South Africa and how it can be overcome
• The need for personal integrity and ethics
• How to recognise your blessings
• Reaching your dreams
• How to turn your suffering into something that enriches you
• Black Economic Empowerment
Gayton’s talks are extrememly memorable because he shocks as much as he entertains, and he is always very entertaining. No one who’s listened to him can ever walk away quite the same person.
Kenny Kunene Picture
Jamie Foxx might play role of SA convict Gayton McKenzie
OUTSIDE CHANCE: Gayton McKenzie, a former gangster and bank robber who exposed corruption in prison, is now a motivational speaker. The life of the Gayton McKenzie, a convict paroled after helping to expose corruption at Grootvlei Maximum Security Prison in Bloemfontein, will be turned into a movie.
His character might be played by Hollywood megastar Jamie Foxx - but McKenzie feels a more home-grown approach would be better.
"I know the producers want to take it global, but I really want a South African guy to play me," he said.
The producer of the film, Global Creative Studios, is negotiating with Morgan Freeman, whom they want to play Gayton's father.
McKenzie shot to fame in 2002 when a secret videotape of corruption at Grootvlei prison was screened on television around the world.
McKenzie said the film would allow him to give something back to the community that he once terrorised.
He wants to build a drug rehabilitation centre near his home township of Heidedal, in the Free State.
Peter Morgan, of Global, said his company was talking to potential investors in an attempt to attract funding for the film.
I don't boast, I boost, says Mister Sushi
I'm an inspiration, says Kunene, as he buys R1.5m Lamborghini
Nov 14, 2010 12:00 AM By BONGANI MDAKANE and ROWAN PHILP
A month after provoking public fury over his R700000 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.
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TOASTING SUCCESS: Kenny Kunene brandishes a giant champagne bottle behind gilded 'prison bars' at his club, ZAR Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
'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 R800000 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 R10000 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 withthe 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."
How I earned my bucks
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 R10000 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.
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. - Rowan Philp
Tycoon writes off R2m car
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 multimillion-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 stopped in a field.
The vehicle knocked down an Eskom power pole, cutting electricity to parts of Ngcobo.
In the car with him was former Miss SA Teen Moloko McKenzie (not related to Gayton), who was knocked unconscious.
Gayton managed to free himself from the wreck, pulled Moloko free of the seat and carried her to safety.
Gayton, 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 at the Easter weekend.
The accident was witnessed by several people in the convoy, and Kunene was following the R8 in his Lam- borghini 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,” he added.
Meanwhile the Sushi King has revealed that he would be bringing popular US producer-performer Timbaland to the country to celebrate his club ZAR’s birthday at the end of May.
Kunene also revealed that several other famous singers would perform alongside Timbaland.
Celebrities Ciara, Fat Joe and Lil’ Kim are expected to join in the celebrations.
“Timbaland and the rest have been in talks with ZAR to do a four-show tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe, starting at the end of May, and have agreed to spend a week in Mzanzi,” said Kunene.
“So, instead of the usual whirlwind tour, they will be spending time with the ZAR family to get to know the country and its people and rock us all in Johannesburg, Durban, Nelspruit and Harare,” he added. - Saturday Star
Celebs race for a good cause
Kuli Roberts: It is always wonderful to see celebrities giving to charities, so off I went to Rosebank to witness the Amazing Race.
Management of the trendy ZAR nightclub in Cape Town has been warned to obtain valid operating licenses or face closure.
The night spot, which opened in January this year, is operating without liquor, entertainment and business licenses.
The club, which is owned by business tycoon Kenny Kunene, is housed at the Cape Royale Hotel in Greenpoint.
It is believed the club is operating on the hotel's licenses.
Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith said nightclub management will be issued with a notice.
“As for the business license, when they get the first notice it will give them a warning and a minimal time to comply. Failing so, we will take them to court,” he said.
Smith said the SAPS Liquor Unit will also issue ZAR management with a final notice.