Johannesburg - Over the past eight years an estimated 600 liquidations were handed to the controversial Enver Motala, whose crime dossier of theft and 93 fraud convictions came to light during the past week.
Motala’s spectacular rise as a liquidator – despite several people having sacrificed their careers to expose his dishonesty – was one of the best indicators of the country’s impotence in the face of corruption, experts in the liquidation industry told Sake24.
Motala, previously known as Enver Dawood, but who changed his name after being convicted of theft and 93 charges of fraud, clearly had support in high circles for his ascent in the liquidation industry.
His removal from the panel of liquidators last week however showed that something had changed.
The reason is probably the scandalous stripping of the Orkney and Grootvlei gold mines during the liquidation of Pamodzi Gold.
The stand taken by Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers against the utter disdain for the interests of mineworkers in the liquidation process probably led to Motala’s undoing.
An irreproachable source at the department of justice said that on Monday Motala was informed by the master of his removal from the panel of liquidators. On Tuesday afternoon he waited from three o’clock to five o’clock outside the office of Justice Minister Jeff Radebe
for an appointment to try to have the decision reversed.
Radebe saw him at five o’clock that afternoon. The discussion lasted about half an hour, but Radebe did not accede to Motala’s request. The removal remains in place, said the source.
Motala’s undoing will probably divert attention from the roles played by President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, and Zondwa Mandela
, grandson of former president Nelson Mandela
, in the scandalous Pamodzi liquidation.
In a potential takeover by Aurora Empowerment Systems, Grootvlei and Orkney have for two years been crippled by the liquidation process and stripped of all assets – from scrap steel to gold production – while thousands of affected mine workers and their families have been starving.
Chief master Advocate Lester Basson, who is directing an investigation into the liquidations handled by Motala, said a realistic estimate was that about 600 liquidations had been awarded to him over the past eight years – about four per court week.
Half of these were awarded to him by the North Gauteng Master’s Office, the rest in Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal.
Motala was appointed chief liquidator in the liquidation of the Retail Apparel Group (RAG) in 2002 at the insistence of Dr Penuell Meduna, the then Minister of Justice.
Objections from Advocate Mike Tshishonga, the deputy director general in charge of the master’s offices, cost him his job because he tried to block it.
Meduna introduced Motala to various people, including Tshishonga, as “my friend”, but on Friday Meduna told Sake24 he had had Motala nominated as liquidator at the request of the South African Revenue Service (Sars), which had submitted a R106m claim in the RAG liquidation.
Sars confirmed its request to Meduna, but in ensuing years it had never again supported Motala. Motala certainly had high political connections. Many of the liquidations were allocated to him on the basis of letters from trade unions in which the master of the high court was requested to appoint him as liquidator to represent the workers of liquidated companies – but this had subsequently changed.
It's too late for Tshishonga - dismissed by Meduna in 2003 - but he will find the news that the controversial figure of Enver Motala has eventually been exposed immensely satisfying.
The RAG liquidation, worth R2bn, at the time was the biggest liquidation in the country’s history. In 2006 Tshishonga eventually succeeded in having whistleblowers in the workplace protected through a protracted court case. In 2010 he published a book, Whistleblower, on the subject.
“It’s tremendously frustrating if evidence of corruption lies on the table, but no one does anything,” he said on Friday.
At the time Meduna had ordered a Tshishonga subordinate and deputy master, Leon Lategan, to appoint Motala as liquidator in the RAG matter.
Tshishonga lodged a complaint about the irregularity with the public protector, the auditor general and even Essop Pahad
, then minister in the office of former president Thabo Mbeki
. When he realised that nothing would come of his objections, he convened a media conference in October 2003 and made the irregularities public.
He was suspended shortly thereafter and six months later his services were terminated, but enormous pressure had been put on government.
Mbeki appointed a commission of inquiry into the liquidation industry with two advocates, one of whom was Advocate Seth Nthai
. The commission’s report has remained under wraps to this very day.
“I would give anything to know what was in that report,” said Tshishonga.
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