Probe Aurora and Motala: Cosatu

[] — Cosatu on Monday demanded that the government investigate Aurora Empowerment Systems and the two Pamodzi Gold liquidators who were dismissed last week.

“The investigators must look into allegations that the company, with the connivance of the liquidators, were asset-stripping the mines by looting and selling off equipment, and find out whether the liquidators received kick-backs for turning a blind eye to this. They must also look into the numerous breaches of the labour laws in the way the company treated their workers,” said Cosatu, who welcomed news of Aurora’s removal from the mines.

Enver Motala from SBT Trust and Gavin Gainsford from KPMG were fired as liquidators of the Pamodzi Gold estate, while less than a week later Aurora was told its interim management contract had been cancelled and it had to evacuate the premises.

Aurora, named the preferred bidder for Pamodzi’s Orkney and Grootvlei mines, took management of the operational mines late in 2009 and in the almost year-and-a-half these mines have been under its management, they have deteriorated to the extent that they are no longer in operation and require an estimated R500m in recapitalisation.

Agreeing with the National Union of Mineworkers (Num), Cosatu said that companies such as Aurora should “not be given any chance to again play games with poor people’s lives”.

It said it also hoped that the company “will be banished in the mining industry under whatever name it may reappear”.

Cosatu also suggested that the dismissed liquidators not be allowed to operate within the industry.

“If any of them, or the Aurora directors, is found to have acted illegally, they must be brought to justice, and be compelled to repay all the money owed to the workers,” it said.

Aurora’s board of directors includes President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, and former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela.

The company was given three days to pack up under the supervision of a security company to ensure the mining assets were not pillaged further. The company has also been forced to restore the mines to the condition they were in when they took them over.

Cosatu said Aurora still owes workers millions in unpaid wages and has left them with virtually no income for two years.