Economy / 15 April 2019, 11:00am / Luyolo Mkentane
JOHANNESBURG - Prominent liquidator Johan Francois Engelbrecht and attorney John Walker have won a temporary reprieve stopping Minister of Police General Bheki Cele from executing a search and seizure warrant that forms part of a wide criminal investigation by the police.
The North Gauteng High Court last week (April 9) granted Engelbrecht and Walker a temporary order to stop the investigation pending the finalisation of proceedings that would include an inventory of all documents pertaining to the search and seizure warrants by the police.
The order also interdicted Cele and investigating officer Captain Jacq Velloen from executing the warrant.
Engelbrecht took to court following an investigation by the police into the insolvency of Pamodzi Gold and Consolidated Modderfontein Mines among others. The mines are in liquidation.
It, however, ordered both Engelbrecht and John Walker Attorneys to compile a separate inventory of all documents referred to in the search and seizure warrant that were in their respective possession.
It said the documents should include confidential and non-confidential portions and be filed within eight weeks respectively, with the former to be filed at the offices of the Deputy Judge President of the High Court of South Africa in Pretoria.
The order noted an undertaking by Engelbrecht, who was one of the Pamodzi Gold Mines liquidators, not to “dissipate any equipment and documents” - whether in hard copy or in digital format - mentioned in the warrant.
Last week Business Report reported that the police's organised crime unit had conducted search and seizure operations at the homes and offices of some of the country's top liquidators.
Among those targeted was Engelbrecht, who allegedly pushed for the removal of Pamodzi Gold liquidators Enver Motala and Gavin Gainsford in 2014.
Motala and Gainsford took over after Aurora directors, who include ex-president Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse and Zondwa Mandela, a grandchild of late president Nelson Mandela allegedly stripped Pamodzi Gold operations in Gauteng and the North West of assets, leading to damages and losses estimated at R1.4billion in 2009.
The Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the Aurora directors held liable for R1.5bn worth of damages in 2016.
The North Gauteng High Court noted that Walker, who is the attorney for the current liquidators that include Engelbrecht, was not a suspect in the criminal investigation and was not listed as such in the search and seizure warrant. Walker stated that he “merely” acted as the attorney for the liquidators in the Pamodzi group of companies, having been appointed after Enver Motala was removed by the Master of the High Court.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Kay Makhubela has confirmed that a case of fraud was being investigated.
However, Walker said they were unaware of the nature of the charges allegedly committed. “Save for the attempted execution of the warrant, no person has confronted either myself nor Engelbrecht with any criminal charges,” he said.
On Friday, Walker said he was not permitted by ethical rules to comment on the outcome of the matter before it was adjudicated upon by the court.
“As I am the second applicant to the application however, it follows that I seek the relief sought in that application,” Walker said.
“I am duty bound to protect the information in my possession as an attorney, and it is for this reason that I applied for the relief sought.”
He said he was bound by his legal duty to assist the police in any investigation and had tendered his co-operation prior to launching the application, adding: “This tender was, and remains ignored.”
Walker also refuted claims in a sworn affidavit by a former employee of Engelbrecht that he, together with the former and Rossouw, met and conspired to remove Motala from the Pamodzi estates.
“I deny this emphatically. I was only briefed on the Pamodzi estates by the remaining liquidators, after Mr Motala had been removed from that office by the Master of the High Court,” said Walker.
“I have no power to influence the decisions taken by the Master norought to do so unlawfully at any time in the past.”