File picture: Kim Ludbrook/EPA
Johannesburg - The former chief executive of Joburg Ballet has hit out at his former employers, accusing them of an about-turn in a civil suit against each other that’s before the courts.

Dirk Badenhorst, who left Joburg Ballet under a financial mismanagement cloud in November 2015, said through his lawyer yesterday that his former employers had now admitted to owing him the 10% commission for all money raised during his tenure, which the ballet company had said Badenhorst took improperly.

The Star reported in 2015 that Badenhorst was first suspended in August of that year after investigations had raised “serious concerns of issues of corporate governance, financial management and oversight”.

This was for the R890 000 that Badenhorst took and for which the ballet company launched a civil suit, claiming the former chief executive took the money improperly and asked the court to order him to repay it with interest and declare him a delinquent director.

Badenhorst has launched a counter-claim seeking more than R2 million that he said was due to him.

His lawyer, Mark Thompson, said yesterday at a media briefing that it was “shocking” for the ballet company to now admit that Badenhorst was entitled to his salary plus the 10% commission, but that it would not pay him, because they say in court papers that Badenhorst’s claim is now prescribed in law.

“In line with the allegations they made in the media, one would have expected them to say in their court papers that he wasn’t entitled to the money and that he shouldn’t have taken the money. Now, their papers are completely different; they are saying: ‘Yes, we know that the money is due to him, but he can’t claim it because it is prescribed’,” Thompson said.

A prescription defence entails a time lapse that makes a right void in law.

“This is in stark contrast to the inflammatory statements made when Mr Badenhorst sought to recover his salary,” Thompson added.

Joburg Ballet chairperson James Campbell said in 2015 that the board of directors felt Badenhorst “wasn’t entitled to the money he took, and Dirk felt that he was, so we decided let’s test this matter in court”.

Asked for comment on Wednesday, Campbell said: “The matter is before the court and Dirk’s media conference is opportunistic

“He should let the court process run its course. We continue to believe we have a firm case as per our previous statement.”

The Star