Aurora directors expected in courtComment on this story
Johannesburg - After waiting for six months, the liquidators of the former Pamodzi East Rand mines have asked the court for a trial date for their application to hold the former Aurora Empowerment Systems directors personally liable for R1.7 billion in losses at the mines.
The liquidators filed their application in May to ask that Khulubuse Zuma, Zondwa Mandela and Thulani Ngubane – and their business associates Fazel and Sulliman Bhana – be held personally liable.
Zuma is President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, while Mandela is former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson.
The liquidators are arguing that the directors lied about their ability to manage the mine, as they did not have the required funds or expertise.
The matter was initially delayed because Mandela, Ngubane and the Bhanas had asked for security for costs.
Attorney John Walker, who is representing the joint liquidators, yesterday said that the defendants were stalling the matter.
“We did not give them security for costs but they have not made any further formal application for it.
“We get the impression that they are stalling the matter. We now want to go ahead with the trial,” said Walker.
David Swartz of Phillip Silver and Associates, who is representing Mandela, Ngubane and the Bhanas, was not available for comment.
Zuma’s lawyers have also not filed their opposing affidavits – but Walker explained that they had asked for documents before filing the affidavit.
The intention was that the security-for-costs issue be resolved before the documents were handed over, said Walker.
The documents will now be handed over on Tuesday.
Eddie Claasen of BDK Attorneys, representing Zuma, yesterday said: “My client is not really involved in that matter. I haven’t heard anything about that matter in months. They are having a separate interlocutory battle with the other directors.”
The application to hold the directors personally liable is terms of section 424 of the Companies Act, which allows for directors and anyone involved in the running of a company to be held personally liable for any damage done to the company under their leadership.
If the Pretoria High Court agrees to the application, the five businessmen will be bankrupted and their homes, vehicles and shares in other businesses could be taken to repay the R1.7bn.
In July, Zuma distanced himself from the other directors, opting to get his own lawyer to defend the claim.
Aurora was the caretaker of the mines, which are in Springs and Orkney, and managed the mines for close on two years.
The two mines are derelict as they were stripped of assets and gold.
In the inquiry by the Master of the High Court into the affairs of the mine it was revealed that “vast amounts” of money generated from gold sales at the mine were paid to family members and business associates.
Zuma argues that he was not involved in the day-to-day running of the mines and says the Bhanas were taking decisions on their own and ran the company.
But father and son say they merely advised the Aurora board and raised funds.