Cape Town - The Trilinear Empowerment Trust is suing in a bid to get back R101 million in workers’ provident funds that went missing.
The trust was created as an investment vehicle for five SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union provident funds.
It lent money to Canyon Springs Investments 12 – a company set up as a vehicle for “unlawful purposes”, the trust’s lawyers contend – between 2006 and 2009, and claims that the company owes it just over R101m, excluding interest.
Canyon Springs was liquidated in June 2011, and the Trilinear Empowerment Trust’s trustees have turned to the Western Cape High Court in an attempt to hold several people allegedly involved personally liable for the debt.
Among them are former Trilinear asset manager Sam Buthelezi, a former Trilinear trustee Richard Kawie and two former Canyon Springs directors, Enoch and Thandiwe Godongwana.
The hearing has been delayed because the Godongwanas have brought an “exception application” to have amendments made to the court document that outlines the trust’s claim. Their lawyers argue that it is not clear from the document what the extent is of the allegations against their clients and, as a result, they cannot properly respond.
Yesterday in court advocate Arnold Subel, SC, acting for the Godongwanas, said that his understanding of the trust’s arguments was that Canyon Springs was not a legitimate business and was being used as a vehicle to misappropriate the trust’s funds.
“If that’s what they want to say, then they must say that,” he said, arguing that the document was too vague and broad.
It was not clear, he argued, whether his clients were being accused of being party to the various alleged cases of misconduct, or of breaches of their directorships and failure to take reasonable steps to protect the company’s assets.
Acting for the trustees, advocate Gavin Woodland, SC, argued that their claim document needed to be read “sensibly as a whole and cumulatively”, saying the allegations were implied. “All the plaintiff has to do is give an outline of his or her case. The rest is a matter of evidence,” he said.
Woodland said it was clear from their papers that Canyon Springs had been used “as a vehicle for unlawful purposes” because payments had been made on the basis of fabricated invoices.
He argued that as stewards of the company, the Godongwanas had acted recklessly or negligently because they’d been “supine” in their attitude towards the handling of the company’s assets.
Acting Judge Kate Savage reserved her judgment over the application.
Meanwhile, Buthelezi and Kawie face criminal charges for their roles in the Canyon Springs affair and are expected back in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on December 13. - Cape Times