Kenyan-German Business Couple in Court Over Unpaid Salaries

(l. to r.) Mathias Hoffmann, his wife, Faiza Hoffmann and Andrés Heller's the show's creator.
(l. to r.) Mathias Hoffmann, his wife, Faiza Hoffmann and Andrés Heller’s the show’s creator.

The Kenyan business tycoon that is behind the famous Afrika! Afrika! show, Faiza Hoffmann and her husband Mathias Hoffmann are in court over unpaid salaries and unhonoured promises they made including to Auma Obama’s organisation, Sauti Kuu.

The show came to a close in April in Zurich after a record attendance of close to 4million attendees. However, it seems the many people that made the show possible have still not been paid. (Read: Kenyan Behind Multimillion Euro Production)

The former spokesperson Wolfgang Klauke, was the first to take them to court over €30,000 in unpaid dues. The two parties agreed before the Mannheim District court for the Hoffmanns to pay €12,000 and a “benevolent witness”, as it was called.

Mr. Klauke however claims that there are many more employees and service providers who still have unpaid dues against the Hoffmanns. He claimed her had written a letter to Andrés Hellers (the show creator), who mentioned that the Hoffmanns and their company the “Afrika! Zirkus- und Veranstaltungs-GmbH & Co. KG” owes him and his Austrian company, “Artevent”, a six-digit figure.

Other debtors include Sellmedia GmbH who are owed €15,000 for taxi-adverts in Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt ; the Stage-Manager of the Afrika-Show is owed €16 000; the production manager, Bernie Häfner €20,000 and many others are yet to come forward.

Faiza Hoffmann Auma Obama
Faiza Hoffmann and Auma Obama at the Afrika! Afrika! premier in Baden-Baden

The couple had promised to give 25 cents for every ticket they sold for the show to Sauti Kuu, the foundation run by Auma Obama in Kenya. They invited Auma Obama for the show’s premier in Baden-Baden where they handed her a cheque for €25,000. The remaining amount of close to €50,000 is yet to be handed over to them, according to Auma Obama’s manager, Saskia Hildebrandt.

In Germany, courts don’t allow a class-action suit and therefore every single individual has to go to court and sue the company on their own. Unfortunately some individuals have lost everything due to the arrears and can’t afford to go to court.

The “Afrika! Zirkus- und Veranstaltungs-GmbH & Co. KG” company is run by Faiza Hoffmann as the CEO and the husband is only in-charge of marketing.  “He pulls many threads in the background and helps where he can, but leaves me in my role and responsibilities”, Faiza Hoffmann said in March this year in an interview with the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung.

However, according to Mr. Klauke, Faiza is only a cover and Mathias is actually the one who runs the whole business.

This is not the first time Mr. Hoffmann formerly known as Impresarios Matthias Hoffmann, is crossing roads with justice. In 1998, he was sentenced to 5 years 8 months imprisonment for tax evasion (22 million Deutschmarks) and fraud. When asked about the issue, he said that this was “normal” to have a “difference in opinion” between a former employee and a company. He also added that he knew that after his last court process, it was inevitable for people to immediately go to the prosecutor once they believed that he (Hoffmann) or any of his companies couldn’t pay them. He maintained that his company isn’t bankrupt and they are looking to take the Afrika! Afrika! show to the Middle East where they are sure they’ll make even more money.

Faiza Hoffmann had been living in Canada since 1998 until 2008 when she got married to Mathias.

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