JOHANNESBURG - Sacked Old Mutual chief executive Peter Moyo will wait two weeks to hear whether he can return to work, amid a rough legal battle for his reinstatement.
Judge Brian Mashile told the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday that judgment was reserved, and he expected to make a decision in two weeks’ time.
Moyo, 56, has sued the Old Mutual board for firing him unlawfully in June.
He wants the insurer to abide by last month’s court order that he be reinstated, and he believes the company is guilty of contempt of court.
The 174-year-old insurer suspended Moyo in May over a breakdown of trust and confidence and later said there was a conflict of interest in his NMT Group before axing him a month later.
Advocate Dali Mpofu, Moyo’s legal representative, alleged on Friday that Old Mutual aimed to keep Moyo out of the gate “by hook or by crook”.
Mpofu told Mashile that Moyo’s axing was equal to “shackling Mr Moyo’s hands behind his back and inviting him to a boxing match”.
“Even after the court judgment they lock the door,” said Mpofu, referring to Moyo being prevented from entering the company's premises.
Mpofu said Old Mutual would not suffer irreparable harm if Moyo is reinstated and they “should just grow up”.
Old Mutual’s legal team said it was in the interest of justice to grant the leave to appeal Moyo’s reinstatement.
Advocate Alec Freund said that working with Moyo would be “untenable”, as Moyo was aiming to remove the board of directors.
Freund also sought to persuade the court to grant leave to appeal saying “there was a reasonable prospect of success in another court”.
Moyo wants the court to declare Old Mutual directors delinquent under section 162 of the Companies Act in Part B of his legal battle.
Advocate Vincent Maleka said the court order to reinstate Moyo had a practical effect on the ground, as it not only affected Moyo but also the board in the effecting of its oversight and supervisory duties.
“By law corporate governance requires that the board exercise its oversight duties, if his lordship’s order is given effect on the ground it means that Mr Moyo will have to contend with the board until the outcome of his application of delinquency, way down the line God knows how many years,” he said.
Moyo approached the court saying that he had been victimised by the board after raising a triple conflict of interest against board chairperson Trevor Manuel. He also cited raising the red flag after querying why the company had paid for Manuel's legal fees for his axing.
Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Moyo’s legal representative, told the court that the litigation process was not a basis for Old Mutual to deny Moyo’s reinstatement, nor was it a basis to allege there had been a breakdown of trust.