We speak to village bricklayer who says he built Ramaphosa’s walls with stones


When Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa declared Ntaba Nyoni Estate as part of his personal wealth of well over R110 million with Parliament’s Register of Members’ Interests that was because Ramaphosa has shares in both Ntaba Nyoni Estate and Ntaba Nyoni Feedlot to the value of R96 million.

There’s only one Ntaba Nyoni Estate that the 013NEWS knows of – and it is a livestock farm located near Badplaas in Mpumalanga which the Deputy President frequents.

Of late, workers say the Deputy President arrives in state BMW X5s, escorted by his bodyguard and is a very nice person but wants cleanliness and “hates laziness”.

They say Ramaphosa does award workers performance and “is easy to please” but workers who met the 013NEWS reporters said salaries were anything below R2 500 a month.

However one bricklayer who built a wall with stones for Ramaphosa at his Ntaba Nyoni Estate said he never saw an employer happy like that before.

“He bought the farm around 2004 and he was looking for someone to build the entrance wall for him and other buildings inside the farm. I was contacted by a friend who worked there many years before Ramaphosa became the new owner and I met him for the first time somewhere in 2005 and he showed me the work needed to be done,” said bricklayer Jan ‘Sparks’ Mahlangu.

Sparks (44) lives in the Mpumalanga Badplaas area, located just 32km from Ntaba Nyoni, and has been a bricklayer at least since the time when he was 21 years old in 1994 – he started off as helper of older bricklayers before he began bricklaying, building homes for other farm-owners and villagers.

At the age of 32 in 2005 he began work at Ramaphosa’s farm and told 013NEWS he never enjoyed working for “any African employer” like that before and “as a bricklayer I saw the money not coming to the level of a wage or salary but of empowerment and that’s because I saw he was pleased with the work I did”.



Sparks shows off his work

“I said, ‘no, because there’s too much stones here, I will do the gate entrance wall with stones’ and Ramaphosa said, ‘let’s try it Jan’ and when I did he could not contain himself when he came to visit the following week,” Sparks said.

Sparks has at least 9 houses built with stones to his credit around the Badplaas tourist area and many others built with bricks. His survival depends on how long a project will last and after work is done, he remains unemployed “until another one says ‘come, here I want a builder’,” he said, in reference that the last time he was with Ramaphosa was in 2006 when he was completing work.

He has done tar fixing and built many homes since then.

This week he took us to outside the Ntaba Nyoni farm to show us how much of a ‘stone-layer’ he is. He says he still misses Ramaphosa because he had developed a very good relationship and “he called me Jan [Sparks’ first name] and would say, ‘anything you need, talk, perhaps I can assist’ and did assisted me I remember I had problems at home and needed some money for petrol and I called him in Johannesburg in his phone and said, ‘I’m out’ and he said, ‘I will see’ and two minutes I received a call from his PA that I should go fetch the money from the Indian shop and it was R11 000 for me to sort out my personal and familial challenges,” he said.

He told 013NEWS: “The reason I want to put the story on web is because I want people to see my work which I’m proud of and should contact me on my number, that is 076 062 2384 if they also need work of this nature”.

(reported by ZK/edited by MM)

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