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Telkom triumphs over ‘spy’ accused

The North Gauteng High Court where Judge Ronel Tolmay found in favour of Telkom’s argument.Image: Jacques Naude/African News Agency/ANA.

The North Gauteng High Court where Judge Ronel Tolmay found in favour of Telkom’s argument.Image: Jacques Naude/African News Agency/ANA.

Published Apr 5, 2022

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Telkom has triumphed over a former employee who sought a court order compelling the payout of his pension, which has been blocked since 2012, despite the former staff member facing commercial espionage accusations.

Andre Johannes Jacobs resigned from Telkom on October 31, 2012, after he received notice to appear before a disciplinary inquiry.

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The telecommunications giant held that he decided to resign rather than answer to the damning allegations that he sold its data to competitors over a six-year period.

Telkom pressed criminal charges against Jacobs in 2013. It also served him a summons indicating that it intended to sue him for more than R203 million in contractual damages.

Telkom also decided, in terms of relevant legislation under the Pension Funds Act, to block the payout of his pension. Jacobs’ pension accumulated over 23 years, as he had been in Telkom’s employ from January 3, 1989.

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Jacobs turned to the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to seek an order compelling Telkom to unblock his pension payout. His counsel submitted that he should be declared entitled to the payment of his pension despite the allegations because of the “unreasonable delay” in both the civil and criminal cases.

Jacobs has not been charged or arrested in the nine years since Telkom opened a criminal case against him. He told the court that his only interaction with the police was when they searched his house and seized some items on August 23, 2013.

Jacobs added that the police told him in November last year that the case had in fact been withdrawn. To his surprise, his attorney received an email from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) informing him that the criminal case was proceeding.

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To ward off Jacobs’ push for an order against it, Telkom placed the blame for the delay in the matter at the NPA’s door.

The network provider submitted in court that it could not be blamed for the delay of its civil application. Telkom had held off the civil case based on the NPA’s request to it to do so, the utility told the court.

The criminal case was also hamstrung on the NPA’s side, Telkom submitted. The group provided the court with emails in which the NPA undertook to escalate and enrol the case. The latest information Telkom had from the NPA was that the matter would be enrolled this year.

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Telkom submitted that the allegations faced were serious. An order favouring Jacobs would prejudice it because he would use his pension money once he received it.

Judge Ronel Tolmay found in favour of Telkom’s argument.

“It is clear that if the monies are paid out to Mr Jacobs he will, on his version, try to meet his existing financial obligations, which in turn would leave Telkom with no recourse.

“Even if successful, a judgment against Mr Jacobs will be of no value if an interim interdict is not granted. Consequently, irreparable harm was proven,” Judge Tolmay said in a fresh judgment.

“The disputed evidence against Mr Jacobs is serious and potentially criminal.”

Judge Tolmay dismissed Jacobs’ application without legal costs.

@BonganiNkosi87

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