Dineo Faku

THE purchase of Blyvooruitzicht mine near Carletonville by Goldrich Holdings was invalid because the sale agreement had lapsed due to missed payment deadlines, the South Gauteng High Court ruled yesterday.

The court also ordered that Goldrich be evicted from all mine property.

“The sheriff of this court is authorised and directed to evict from the properties the respondent and any of its agents or representatives and to request any person, including members of the SAPS to assist the sheriff in evicting the respondent and any of its agents or representatives from the properties,” Judge Coram Mayat said in her judgment yesterday.

She also ordered Goldrich to pay the liquidators’ legal costs.

The much-anticipated ruling means that the mine’s 1 746 employees will have a share in any payout to creditors once assets have been realised and a liquidation account confirmed by the Master of the High Court.

It came after oral arguments were heard earlier this month, during which the liquidators said the sale agreement had lapsed, which would allow them to find another buyer. The liquidators have been fighting since January for control of the mine after Goldrich missed payment deadlines.

Chairman Thulani Ngubane and chief executive Bonginkosi Mthethwa are 50-50 shareholders in Goldrich. Fazel Bhana is an adviser.

Ngubane and Bhana served on the board at Aurora Empowerment Systems, which failed to pay workers at Pamodzi’s liquidated Orkney and Grootvlei gold assets.

Blyvoor was sold to Goldrich for R70 million after it went into liquidation last year.

About 2 000 people were employed at the mine. According to employees, Goldrich promised 400 jobs but these did not materialise. The mine’s Five Shaft flooded after the company failed to pay its R61m debt to state-owned power utility Eskom.

The sale was expected to be a positive development for the community and employees, but service providers and workers were not paid.

The company was interdicted earlier this year to prevent it from removing any gold or gold-bearing material and from removing scrap metal and other assets. It is in business rescue after running into financial difficulties. Mine operations were halted when employees were not paid.

The court heard that payments towards the first R10m instalment were late. Goldrich concluded a purchase agreement on December 6 last year. Initial conditions were not fulfilled a week later. The agreement lapsed on January 15.

It was agreed at a meeting between Blyvoor and Goldrich that further agreements would be negotiated and concluded by January 29. Under these Goldrich had to make a payment of R6m by midnight on January 30. It made the payment by February 6, but had not fulfilled the terms of the January 30 deadline.

Goldrich argued that it had already paid R11.4m to the liquidators.