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'Zuma nephew too fat to testify'

Obesity and ill health were the main reasons advanced by Aurora Empowerment Systems director Khulubuse Zuma for refusing to give testimony at yesterday’s insolvency inquiry in Pretoria before the Master of the North Gauteng High Court, union Solidarity said yesterday.

Zuma, the nephew of President Jacob Zuma, refused to give evidence because he said he had one kidney and suffered from a heart condition due to being overweight. He had been summoned to appear before the Master at the inquiry into the insolvency of Pamodzi Gold, called in terms of section 417 and 418 of the Companies Act.

Khulubuse Zuma. Picture: Sandile Ndlovu. Credit: Independent Newspapers

This was the second time the inquiry has been postponed. Zuma last month declined to give evidence unless he could do so in Zulu, despite being fluent in English. The case has been postponed to December 9.

Johan Engelbrecht, one of the Pamodzi Gold joint liquidators, yesterday offered to arrange for a doctor to be present at the proceedings to monitor Zuma’s medical condition, but the offer was turned down.

“I am furious. After going through all the expenses of organising a translator, why do they not tell us in advance that they will not testify because of obesity? This is a delay tactic,” fumed Engelbrecht.

Engelbrecht said the Aurora directors needed to state in the inquiry what happened to the mines’ assets and money meant for workers, who were not paid.

“We want to get closure so that we can tell creditors and also give feedback to the portfolio committee on mineral resources on the issue,” he said.

Pamodzi Gold’s Orkney and Grootvlei mines were managed by Aurora when it went into liquidation in 2009. Aurora was subsequently dismissed by liquidators after failing to perform or come up with the cash to buy the mines. Thousands of employees have not been paid R3.1 million in salaries.

Other politically connected directors are Zondwa Mandela, the grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, Michael Hulley, the newly appointed legal adviser of President Zuma, and Thulani Ngubane, the commercial director at Aurora.

Mandela failed to testify on this week citing poor health.

“These are delay tactics, it’s a sign of panic, they (directors) are postponing the inevitable,” said Gideon du Plessis, the deputy general secretary of Solidarity.

Ngubane said these were genuine illnesses and denied the directors were using delaying tactics. “Why are people talking about a delay? Where are we running away to? If somebody is sick, he is sick, it’s the truth, what is the issue?”

When Hulley was named the president’s legal adviser this week, trade unions slammed the appointment. Dineo Matomela

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