AN appeal by the directors of Aurora Empowerment Systems against a judgement they should pay damages and salaries to some 5,300 miners once employed by them has been dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The development, reported by BDLive today, could see the directors including Khulubuse Zuma, the nephew of South African president, Jacob Zuma, and Zondwa Mandela, the grandson of the late Nelson Mandela, stand liable for some R1.7bn – or face sequestration.
The miners, who were employed at Aurora’s Grootvlei and Orkney mines in South Africa’s East Rand (Gauteng) and North West provinces respectively, were left destitute after gold mining proved unsustainable.
Grootvlei, in particular, was subject to asset theft involving running battles between ‘hired’ security forces and zama-zamas, illegal gold miners.
Citing Gideon du Plessis, general-secretary of union Solidarity, BDLive said the judgement was a victory for the workers as well as the rule of law. Other directors affected by the judgement are Thulani Ngubane, financial director of Aurora, and Solly and Fazel Bhana.
Through Aurora, they assumed control of the Pamodzi group’s East Rand and Orkney gold mines in 2009 when the previous owners were placed in provisional liquidation.
In June 2015, the High Court in Pretoria had ruled that the Aurora directors could be held liable for damages that could amount to R1.7bn, said BDLive.
The court concluded that they had acted recklessly and fraudulently when they assumed control of the Pamodzi assets. The mines were idled and stripped of assets, leaving some employees without pay for months, it said.