Source: News 24
EXCLUSIVE | Here’s the Sudanese millionaire – and his Gucci wife – who bought Ramaphosa’s buffalo
Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa with his South African-born wife, Bianca O’Donoghue.
PHOTO: Bianca O’Donoghue/Facebook
- Hazim Mustafa, the owner of Sudanese football club Al Merrikh SC, was identified as the mystery buyer of some Phala Phala buffalo.
- Mustafa paid $580 000 in cash on 25 December 2019 for buffalo he is yet to take delivery of, according to Cyril Ramaphosa.
- He is reported to have links with former Sudanese president, Omar Al-Bashir.
A Sudanese businessman living in Dubai, Hazim Mustafa, with links to former Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, has been identified as the man who handed $580 000 in cash to an employee of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in December 2019 – ostensibly in exchange for several buffalo.
Mustafa was identified by Ramaphosa as the person who paid the roughly R8 million in cash, in his responses to the Public Protector, which is investigating complaints that the president violated the Executive Members Ethics Act, in that he failed to declare his business interests.
Ramaphosa, meanwhile, served as former president Jacob Zuma’s special envoy to South Sudan for the majority of his tenure as deputy president between 2012 and 2018.
News24 revealed details of the president’s responses for the first time on Tuesday and reported that Mustafa had not been positively identified – but, subsequently, News24 has been able to establish that Mustafa is the president of Sudanese football team, Al Merrikh SC.
Ramaphosa told the Public Protector that he visited Phala Phala on 26 December 2019, a day after the cash was handed to one of his staff members by Mustafa.
Ramaphosa instructed the same employee to take the cash out of a safe in the main building on the farm and move it to a safer location.
The employee, Ramaphosa said, then stashed the cash under a sofa cushion in the president’s residence on the farm. The cash remained there for 45 days until the burglary on 9 February 2020.
Ramaphosa confirmed to the Public Protector that the group of buffalo had not left Phala Phala, raising questions over the legitimacy of the transaction, as Mustafa paid a large sum of cash for goods it appears he never tried to collect.
Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa at Lake Como, Italy. Image – Hazim Mustafa Mohamed/Facebook
South African company records do not reveal any immediate or obvious business interests linked to Mustafa in South Africa, while Dubai records are equally opaque.
Well-known and respected online outlet SudaneseOnline, however, reported in 2017 that Mustafa was close to Al-Bashir and that the authorities in the UAE had frozen his assets and bank accounts as part of an investigation into his business partner, who was accused of espionage for unlawfully gaining access to bank account information of a government official.
The publication cited a source close to Mustafa’s family, who revealed that the assets of his company, Badr Overseas Company, were also frozen. Badr appears to trade as Dubai Chem, and is involved in oil and oil by-products, according to its website, which provides no independent verification that Mustafa is a director or shareholder.
“Businessman Hazim Mustafa started his life in the field of printing, as he owned a small printing press to print posters and advertising materials near the Farouk Mosque in Khartoum before working as a broker in the car dealership next to the former Meridien Hotel and established Makarim International Company for Import and Export,” SudaneseOnline reported.
The South African born wife of Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa, Bianca O’Donghue, regularly posts on social media platform Instagram, displaying an apparent life of significant wealth. Image – Bianca O’Donoghue/Instagram
The publication has been the target of several cyber-attacks, allegedly by the Sudanese government, in an attempt to shut it down. The founder, Bakri Abubakr, lives in Phoenix, Arizona, in the US.
Mustafa, it said, in 2016 signed a memorandum of understanding with “the Chairman of the Commission Arab Investment and Agricultural Development Mohammed bin Obaid Al Mazrouei to implement a project for the production and processing of red meat in Sudan at a cost of about $119 million”.
While the true source of his wealth remains unclear at this stage, social media has revealed that he and his South African wife enjoy a life of opulence.
Mustafa is married to Bianca O’Donoghue, who appears to hail from KwaZulu-Natal. In a blog post detailing their extravagant 2018 wedding in Lake Como in Italy, it is revealed that O’Donoghue was the employee of a bank in Dubai.
Over the past year or more, O’Donoghue’s Instagram page has shown snaps of a life of wealth – including several pictures of her in or next to a purple Rolls Royce Cullinan, a luxury SUV worth approximately R5.5 million – with backdrops of the Dubai skyline.
O’Donoghue posing with her Rolls Royce Cullinan. Image – Bianca O’Donoghue/Instagram
She regularly posts pictures of herself wearing expensive clothing by designer labels such as Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana and Chanel. At least two different Ferrari sportscars have also been identified in the numerous pictures.
Mustafa’s wife Bianca posing with one of at least two Ferrari sportscars that features in pictures on her Instagram page. Image – Bianca O’Donoghue/Instagram
News24 reached out to Mustafa and O’Donoghue via their social media pages and the email address provided online, with no immediate response forthcoming.
O’Donoghue’s father, Patrick, also passed on a request to Mustafa to speak with News24, but mentioned the pair were travelling.
In one Facebook post, O’Donoghue praised her husband for a 50 million Sudanese pound donation to the country’s army, which is equal to roughly R1.4 million, in January 2021. In October 2021, the military staged a violent coup, deposing the country’s civilian government.
A screenshot of a Facebook post by the wife of Mustafa, Bianca O’Donoghue, praising her husband for a donation to the Sudanese army in January 2021. Image – Bianca O’Donoghue/Facebook
It was the country’s second coup in two years – with Al Bashir deposed by the military in April 2019 after weeks of violent protests. He was later convicted of corruption and Sudan is set to hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for further trials relating to murders and other crimes.
South Africa earned the ire of the ICC when, in 2015, it failed to arrest Al-Bashir when he was in the country.