Aurora liquidators back in court

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Gavel1234 Independent Newspapers File photo

Johannesburg - A R1.7 billion claim against mining company Aurora Empowerment Systems' insolvent estate is set to continue in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela and president Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma are amongst the company's owners the liquidators want held responsible for the fraudulent running of Aurora.

Other Aurora directors include Thulani Ngubane, Sulliman Bhana, and Fazel Bhana.

Last weekend, the joint liquidators' lawyer John Walker told the Sunday Independent that despite suggestions that Aurora's bosses were planning to ask for a postponement, his clients would push to have proceedings continue.

“The liquidators will oppose the postponement and will ask the judge to proceed.”

Trade union Solidarity issued a statement last week in which it called on Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann not to allow the case to be postponed.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the directors had yet to file responding papers in the matter.

“Right at the outset of this lawsuit two-and-a-half years ago, the accused did everything in their power to delay and undermine legal proceedings.”

In an affidavit one of the joint liquidators, Johan Engelbrecht, accused the directors of having made misrepresentations to the liquidators and running the company recklessly.

In May 2011, Solidarity served the original liquidation application of R3.1 million, in pursuit of unpaid wages, on Kaunda Global Mining Resources, trading as Aurora Gold East Rand.

By then many workers had gone unpaid for years, getting help in the form of food parcels from charities.

In April that year, Pamodzi Gold miner Marius Ferreira committed suicide after being owed R170,000 in outstanding wages.

The company was liquidated in October 2011.

Its directors were accused of destroying the infrastructure at the mines.

They allegedly stripped and sold shafts, pumps, and pipes and caused the loss of more than 5300 jobs.

In November 2011, Aurora directors approached the court to challenge the liquidators' demand that they produce documentation, including company financial records.

In May 2012, City Press reported that liquidators discovered the company had only R2000 left in its 10 bank accounts.

Starting in March 2013, an in-camera inquiry by Master of the High Court in Pretoria was held into the mine's collapse under Aurora.

In court proceedings it emerged that R122m from gold sales had disappeared.

The liquidators subsequently promised to undertake a forensic investigation into this aspect of the matter.

In March last year, China African Precious Metals bought assets of Aurora's gold mine in Orkney, North West.

At the time, Engelbrecht said assets at Aurora's mine in Springs, on Gauteng's East Rand, had been sold to Gold One, and the remainder to other buyers. - Sapa



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