Media coverage of promoter Duncan Heafield’s arrest on multiple fraud charges have focused heavily on reports that he owes up to $4 million to controversial South African businessman Solly Krok.
The Times is saying the company that brought the original complaint against the Kusasa Entertainment chief is a travel agency and the charges date back to an event that happened "some time ago" and has nothing to do with company’s Celine Dion tour or its canceled Josh Groban tour.
Dion’s tour was marred by a series of logistical disasters and Groban’s was canceled when the U.S. singer’s management said Heafield wasn’t fulfilling his side of the contract.
The police aren’t saying who made the complaint against Heafield but Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu told The Times that it was a Durban-based company saying the promoter misrepresented himself by claiming he worked for 3C Africa, a company that had been deregistered. Mngomezulu said Heafield gained Rand 900,000 (US$116,000) from doing so.
3C Africa was the company Heafield was running when Attie van Wyk’s Big Concerts had to use lawyers to get US$250,000 out of him, after he brokered a sponsorship deal for the company.
Heafield arranged some commercial funding for a couple of Big Concerts’ dance events, principally through telecom provider Vodacom, but then passed on only half of the sponsorship money.
Several South African suppliers are reportedly chasing Heafield for the "millions of rands" they’re said to be owed, but the Krok connection looks to have taken the local industry by surprise.
Solly Krok and his brother Abe, who are both in their seventies, have made fortunes out of property and pharmaceuticals, including patenting and marketing a skin-lightening cream called Super Rose that was popular during the apartheid years. The product was withdrawn in the early ’90s.
The Kroks also made money out of developing Johannesburg’s Gold Reef City casino. Last year they were the subject of international news stories when they bought the most expensive house in Australia for Rand 180 million (US$23 million) because they liked the Sydney Harbour location. It seems they weren’t so struck by the house itself, as they soon elected to demolish it and have another built in its place.
South African music industry sources say that, if the story about Heafield owing Solly Krok millions of dollars is true, the aging multi-millionaire is hardly likely to let the matter pass.
Having made two court appearances at KwaZulu-Natal Court, Heafield is understood to have been granted bail at R10,000 (US$1,300).
The Dion tour and Groban cancellation have already brought down Ticketconnection, which has filed for bankruptcy because it can’t pay back all the fans demanding refunds.
Ticketconnection managing director Lise Kuhle told Pollstar that her company had been unable to get back the Groban box office takings that it had advanced to Heafield.
Retail outlet Mr. Price has said it will reimburse those customers who bought tickets at any of its stores, but that’s still expected to leave hundreds of fans empty-handed.