The high court ruled that former Tekkie Town executives could not use confidential information belonging to Steinhoff. Photo: Bloomberg
CAPE TOWN - Tekkie Town founder and former chairperson Braam van Huyssteen yesterday slapped Steinhoff Africa Retail (STAR) with a R41.64 million employment claim as the fallout over his resignation continued.

In the summons filed in the Western Cape High Court, Van Huyssteen charged that STAR owed him for what he would have earned up to September 2021, the duration of his contract.

He said the amount included his annual salary, annual short-term incentive bonus and annual long-term incentive share scheme.

Van Huyssteen resigned in May and initiated litigation against STAR chief executive Leon Lourens, accusing the retailer of breaching his employment contract and then failing to remedy it.

The latest saga comes after the Western Cape High Court ruled on Tuesday that former Tekkie Town executives would not use any legally recognised confidential information belonging to Steinhoff Speciality Fashion and Footwear, except in legal proceedings.

The court also ordered the former executives to destroy any copies, records or data of certain email accounts and not to access or interfere with or attempt to interfere with Tekkie Town’s IT system.

Yesterday, STAR claimed victory, saying that it had achieved its goal when all the parties agreed to a court order finding that access to and interference with the Tekkie Town IT systems, servers, networks and hardware or software, whether in stores or head office, is expressly prohibited by two ex-Tekkie Town executives, Willem Wait and Anton Roetz.

“Furthermore, all respondents, including Braam van Huyssteen and Bernard Mostert, are strictly prohibited from using any Tekkie Town confidential and proprietary company information. The ex-Tekkie Town executives, as well as their related companies, are also required to destroy any copies of records pertaining to Tekkie Town in their possession,” STAR said.

However, former Tekkie Town chief executive Mostert said he was surprised by the statement issued by STAR claiming victory yesterday morning.

“I am surprised by this statement as the high court discharged the interim order recently brought by the STAR group against four of the previous executives of Tekkie Town and another three legal entities linked to these executives. Submissions by the respondents proved that STAR misled the court in several material aspects of the case brought on an ex parte basis on July 5,” Mostert said.

Mostert maintained that they successfully argued that they were legally entitled to copies of their personal and business email messages from the Tekkie Town servers.

“We used our email addresses for all our business communications from the earliest years when Tekkie Town started and long before Steinhoff appeared on the scene,” Mostert said. “These are big businesses valued at more than R2 billion and not related to STAR or their parent Steinhoff International at all.”

Mostert said they also successfully argued that the use of Tekkie Town and related email addresses to manage other business affairs were known to Steinhoff and acceptable as such.

“Tuesday's court order goes further to state that Van Huyssteen and the other executives are allowed access to the information as part of the process of discovery with regard to ongoing legal procedures in the litigation process between Steinhoff and the affected parties,” Mostert said.

STAR chief executive Lourens said they were satisfied that the ruling allowed the group to protect its business.