Politically connected directors of Aurora Empowerment Systems are going to court to challenge a demand by the company’s joint provisional liquidators that they produce financial records of the firm and their personal bank accounts to the insolvency inquiry that is taking place.
Zondwa Mandela, the managing director of Aurora and a grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, Khulubuse Zuma, the chairman and a nephew of President Jacob Zuma, and Thulani Ngubane, a director, and three other directors say that the demand that they produce the books is beyond the scope of the inquiry, which has been appointed in terms of sections 417 and 418 of the Companies Act.
Other documents requested by the inquiry are the minute book, the memorandum and articles of association of Aurora and the financial and other records of three of the directors regarding their relationship with Aurora.
In their application to the North Gauteng High Court, the directors have also cited the Master of that court, who convened the inquiry, and Wayne Gibbs, who chairs it.
The directors want the joint provisional liquidators interdicted “from proceeding along the basis that they have proceeded so far and that evidence obtained thus far be set aside as invalid”.
The affidavit has been deposed by Ngubane. Interestingly, Michael Hulley, the president’s former attorney acknowledged to be an Aurora director, is not one of the applicants.
The application gives a glimpse of what has been taking place in the inquiry, on which the media may report only under strict conditions.
Ngubane says the directors were interrogated at length and separately on August 24. The affidavit says that when questions were put that went beyond the scope of the inquiry, Gibbs turned down objections by their advocate.
He says the examination of the directors and the order to produce the documents amounted to “extensive and intrusive questioning on matters which in my respectful view are extraneous to the legal ambit of the inquiry”.
Ngubane says some of the applicants were asked to explain who was their father, sister, mother, brother, brother-in-law and so on.
The applicants are proposing that the enforcement of any demand should be deferred until their application has come before and been adjudicated by the court.
Ngubane says he is concerned that the attorneys have demanded the immediate production of the documentation for the joint provisional liquidators despite the application. He says the attorneys have threatened some of the directors and their attorney with criminal proceedings.
Aurora was the preferred bidder to buy two mines of Pamodzi Gold, now in liquidation, which was part of Pamodzi Resources.
Ngubane’s affidavit says it was placed on record by Gibbs that the investigation was trying to establish whether a fraudulent bid had been made by Aurora and that he would allow those questions. The directors want any future inquiry to confine itself to the affairs and properties of the insolvent Pamodzi and not to intrude into the private and personal affairs of those associated with Aurora.
Ngubane contends that the line of questions at the inquiry thus far does not relate in any way to matters which could actually or potentially affect the financial interests of the companies in the Pamodzi group in liquidation or the financial interest of its creditors.
The affidavit denies that Yaseen Theba, Faizel Suleman Bhana and Suleman Ahmed Bhana were directors of Aurora.
The inquiry continues this week when Khulubuse Zuma and Hulley are expected to testify. Zondwa Mandela’s advocate, Farook Moosa, told the hearing on Monday that Mandela was too ill to give evidence then.
The North Gauteng High Court yesterday issued a final liquidation order against Aurora subsidiary Kaunda Global Mining Resources, whose sole director is Mandela. Solidarity said he would be subjected to an examination regarding the company’s solvency.