Caterer goes bust after ANC party

By Bronwyn Fourie Time of article published Jul 11, 2013

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Durban - The main catering company for the ANC’s centenary celebrations - which is being sued by two catering subcontractors for outstanding payment - has been liquidated.

This has emerged in court papers in which Soobramoney Pillay, the director of Metrolink Event Management Solutions, said that not only did the company fail to gain new contracts - putting it under financial pressure - but it also had to wait more than a year for payment from the ANC.

The celebration s took place in Bloemfontein in January last year.

Sinclair’s Signature Specialties is suing Pillay and Metrolink Event Management Solutions for outstanding payment of R718 226 while Durban-based Cheers Hiring - which is also suing him - is owed about R75 000.

Although the ANC did eventually pay, Pillay said it was not voluntary and that the party either ignored his requests for payment or referred him from one person to another, eventually only paying after judgment was obtained.

“Never for a minute did I think that the party that constitutes the government of this country would not pay an entity that had helped it out in its moment of crisis. But, sadly, this is precisely what occurred. My optimism was misplaced,” he said in his responding affidavit to one of the companies.

However, Pillay said the catering companies had incorrectly taken legal action against him and Metrolink Event Management Solutions, instead of the now-liquidated Metrolink PR CC, which he said was awarded the contract and hired them.

Metrolink PR CC is owned by Pillay’s wife, while he was believed to be the project manager.

The companies meanwhile insisted that they were contracted by Metrolink Event Management Solutions.

In his affidavit, Pillay said the background to the dispute between Sinclair’s and Metrolink Event Management had its origin in the “rather murky world of politics”.

He said he was contacted on December 18 by ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa who told him the ANC was in a crisis because it had not arranged catering for the celebration which was to take place three weeks later.

“I pointed out that Metrolink PR CC was not itself a caterer or a supplier of catering services. It was an event management close corporation and when it secured contracts, it would call in expert caterers who would render services as part of the entire package.”

After both parties agreed on those terms, Pillay and a colleague from a catering company met Phosa the next day. A draft budget was presented to Phosa and after a few changes were made, he agreed to proceed. No written contract was signed and the entire meeting took 15 minutes.

The contract was to provide snacks, lunch, and dinner for 4 000 VIPs and 600 VVIPs.

“Doctor Phosa undertook, on behalf of the ANC, to immediately make a deposit of R1 500 000 into the bank account of Metrolink PR CC. This deposit was paid.”

A further deposit of R700 000 was paid at the beginning of January. However, despite an agreement for the balance of R1.4m to be paid by January 12, this was not done.

“In fact, the ANC never voluntarily paid Metrolink PR CC at all.”

Pillay said he then instructed his attorney to institute legal proceedings against the ANC, which the party did not oppose. Default judgment against the ANC for the amount of R1 264 890.21, plus interest, was then obtained.

“Prior to obtaining the contract to cater for the ANC’s centenary celebration, Metrolink PR CC had obtained no contracts for over a year. Its income came to a standstill… The payment from the ANC was not sufficient to discharge all of Metrolink PR CC’s obligations.”

The company was liquidated in April.

When approached for comment on Pillay’s claims, attorney Kameshni Naidoo, acting for the ANC, said her client did not wish to comment.

No date has been set for the matter to return to court.

The Mercury

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