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Judgment in Zuma Aurora claims expected

Mar 02 2015 20:45

Pretoria - Judgment will be handed down in the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday in an urgent application by Khulubuse Zuma to have claims of over R1.5bn against Aurora Empowerment Systems set aside.

"Judgment will be handed down on [Tuesday] at 14:00," Judge Eberhardt Bertelsmann said.

Earlier on Monday, the court heard that the purpose of Zuma's application was to muddy the waters of an upcoming court case against the company's bosses.

"The purpose of this application is to muddy the waters of an already complicated matter... and to lead to a postponement of the main matter," John Walker, for the liquidators of Pamodzi gold mine, said.

Zuma's court bid could hinder efforts by liquidators to hold the directors of Aurora responsible for the apparent stripping of assets at the mines in Springs and Orkney.

The case brought by the liquidators was due to be heard on March 23.

Zuma claimed that the liquidators had neglected their duties.

'Highly contested'

Walker argued that Zuma was not able to point fingers at the liquidators because he had stated in an affidavit that he was not involved in the management of Aurora.

"I suspect it's because Mr Zuma has never been involved, therefore he has nothing to say to the Aurora liquidators."

Walker argued that Zuma's case should be dismissed with costs.

John Suttner, for the Master of the High Court, agreed that the case should be dismissed.

"I don't want you to knock this out on the basis that it's not urgent because then it will come back again," he told Bertelsmann.

"This case was a bad non-starter... this should be strangled at birth, with the costs."

Zuma's lawyer Griffiths Madonsela said his client had gone out of his way to save the mines and had suffered financially as a result.

He argued that the claims made against Aurora bosses were "disputed" and "highly contested".

Earlier, proceedings were delayed when Madonsela arrived late, and soon after starting had to be adjourned because he had not brought copies of his heads of argument.

In 2009, Aurora was appointed by liquidators to manage the mines in Springs and Orkney.

However, the company instead allegedly stripped the mines of infrastructure and also left hundreds of employees without pay and surviving on handouts.

Aurora delaying payments

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters outside the high court that the Aurora directors were trying to renege on their responsibility to pay workers at the Pamodzi gold mines

"We have a group of directors... who are doing everything to stonewall and delay workers from [getting] what is clearly due to them.

"[It's] going to add more to the suffering of the workers who are waiting for relief from the court."

Zuma's case was premature and inappropriate, Vavi said.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Matlosane regional secretary Joseph Monisetse said he was very concerned about Zuma's application.

"This application is really disturbing us because it seeks to postpone again the interests of workers who have been waiting for almost five years now."

He hoped the case would be dismissed.

"Instead of Aurora paying workers, they are paying lawyers to defend themselves against paying the poor workers."

num  |  aurora  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  khulubuse ­zuma
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