Johannesburg - Current affairs programme Carte Blanche was
on Wednesday granted permission to record and broadcast parts of the Master's inquiry
into Aurora Empowerment Systems' conduct while managing Pamodzi Gold's assets.
The high court in Pretoria granted an order allowing M-Net's
Carte Blanche to record the testimony of Aurora's directors and consultants,
said Dario Milo of Webber Wentzel, who acted for M-Net and Carte Blanche.
In terms of the order, Carte Blanche would only be able to
broadcast the footage once all the witnesses had completed their evidence.
Milo said the ruling represented "an important
precedent for the broadcast media and a victory for the public's right to know
information of manifest public interest".
The Master of the Court has ordered an inquiry into Aurora's
management of the Grootvlei and Orkney gold mines, in terms of sections 417 and
418 of the Companies Act 61 of 1973.
Carte Blanche initially wanted access to all proceedings,
but this was opposed by the liquidators.
Carte Blanche in response narrowed the scope of the access
it was applying for, and asked the court for permission to record and broadcast
only the testimony of the directors and consultants of Aurora.
These include the politically connected Zondwa Mandela,
grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, Khulubuse Zuma, President Jacob
Zuma's nephew, and Michael Hulley, Zuma's former lawyer.
The Companies Act provides for inquiries of this nature to
be private and confidential unless the Master of the Court decides otherwise,
although in practice companies have to apply for the matter to be held behind
"It is consistent with the constitutional value of
openness and the media's right to freedom of expression that secrecy not be the
default position and that a fully motivated application for secrecy ought, instead,
to be required," according to the heads of argument.
The relevant testimony will start next Tuesday, August 23.
Aurora, which was singled out as the preferred bidder for
Pamodzi's mines when they went into liquidation in 2009, has since had its management
contract cancelled and vacated the premises.
Aurora has been accused of the destruction of infrastructure
at the mines and the loss of more than 5 300 jobs.
Trade union Solidarity has brought an application to have
Aurora liquidated as part of its claim for R3.1m in unpaid wages to workers at
the two mines.
In the meantime, China Africa Precious Metals has agreed to
buy the Pamodzi Orkney gold mine for R150m subject to conditions, the mine's
provisional liquidators and the company said two weeks ago.