The arrest of Qhawe Sithole, Ubuntu Wealth Management chief executive, for allegedly taking part in the looting in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, has sent shockwaves across South Africa. Sithole was arrested last week after he was stopped at a roadblock in Durban, with the police allegedly finding his Jeep Wrangler loaded with a washing machine, a bar stool, alcohol, a bicycle, and several other items.
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) announced that it had removed Sithole from its database following his suspension by the Ubuntu Wealth Management board. The spokesperson for the FCSA, Tembisa Marele, said Sithole’s suspension by his company meant he was no longer on their system as a representative of the financial sector regulator.
According to Marele the FCSA was in direct contact with Ubuntu Wealth Management and was monitoring developments closely. Marele indicated that should Sithole be found to be innocent, he would be allowed to practice again.
“Any regulated entity and/or representative thereof who has been convicted of a crime may not operate as a financial service provider. In the case of such a conviction, Mr Sithole can be debarred by the FSCA,” said Marele.
Social media users have reacted with anger, shock, and confusion to the businessman’s alleged conduct. One user said the arrest of Sithole showed that the acts of vandalism and looting were apparently not perpetrated by the poor and destitute alone.
“He ought to hang his head in shame. He must account …,” tweeted another user.
“This is embarrassing. Truth be told there’s a culture of looting in South Africa from politicians, business executives, entrepreneurs, black, white, coloureds, Indians, foreigners, everyone has their hand in the cookie jar,” wrote Twitter user Qinani.
Salona Singh posted: “For me, the saddest part about this story is the fact that he is a black businessman who has made it despite the odds. His staff, community, peers and family who looked up to him as a beacon of hope and an inspiration, for the successful people they too can become … what has he done to that hope? And even sadder is the sacrifices his parents and grandparents would have made to get him to where he is today … what a way to make them proud.”
Sithole was a learner at one of South Africa’s most prestigious schools, Hilton College and he studied at the University of Cape Town. According to reports, Hilton College has threatened to expel him from its Old Boys’ societies since the news about his involvement in the looting broke.
He was “exposed” by Michael Hay for the alleged looting, who took to social media to post: “I told you I was going to make you famous for looting and stealing …”