Yekani Manufacturing, the R1-billion electronics factory in East London that is closing down, was built to produce smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Big South African retailers, however, said they have never stocked or sold their devices.
While Yekani reportedly assembled TV decoders as part of its operations, it is unclear if the company ever sold any of the smart devices it was meant to produce.
This includes its Trend and Balance smartphones and a range of laptops.
When Yekani launched in 2018, it said it aimed to be Africa’s leading international technology innovator by offering smartphones to the lower LSM market.
The company sought to “secure Africa’s rightful place in international standards in technology”, it said.
“Yekani Technology aims to be the largest smartphone company in South Africa, with Yekani-branded mobile phones.”
However, when MyBroadband asked South Africa’s leading technology retailers whether they had ever sold or stocked Yekani laptops or smartphones, these retailers said they had not.
Takealot, Incredible Connection, and Massmart – Game, Makro, Dion Wired – were among the companies contacted.
MyBroadband contacted Yekani and asked it whether any mobile phones or laptops were made by its factory and then sold, but the company did not respond to direct questions.
Following the questions, Yekani did send out a statement claiming that as its liquidation matter is sub-judice, it is unable to provide further details or comment on any media reports as it “runs the risk of prejudicing or interfering with the pending court proceedings and its outcome”.
A R1-billion failure
Yekani Manufacturing, which was opened by former Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies in Buffalo City’s Developmental Zone in June 2018, and made headlines in January after it was reportedly unable to service a R200-million loan from Standard Bank.
The company explained that the first report of the factory’s closure, which was published in the Daily Dispatch, coincided with Yekani and Standard Bank’s initial court appearance date.
The matter has now been postponed until 18 February, said Yekani.
Workers at the factory have also not been paid in five months, and the factory has not resumed operations in 2020.
“The employees have been claiming for UIF from the Labour Department. Further to this and should Yekani be placed under final liquidation, those employees with valid claims against the company will be able to submit their claims with the liquidators,” Yekani said
Yekani, as well as its Group CEO Siphiwe Cele, said the business remains committed to doing everything in its power to protect and save the jobs of its employees.
“Yekani deeply regrets the impact that this has had on our employees who have fought so hard to make Yekani a success and sincerely apologises,” said Cele.
“Further and similarly so, Yekani would like to apologise to our suppliers who have been very understanding.”
The images below show several of the products listed on the Yekani website.