Cops to probe Aurora bosses
Police have opened a fraud case against a nephew of President Jacob Zuma, a grandson of Nelson Mandela and three others after a court held them liable for the destruction of gold mining assets on Johannesburg’s East Rand.
The Hawks, which investigate priority crimes, would be gathering evidence and study a civil judgment delivered by the high court that held the directors of Aurora Empowerment Systems, including Khulubuse Zuma and Zondwa Mandela, personally liable for the company’s failure, said police spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi.
Mandela and three colleagues – Thulani Ngubane, Solly Bhana and Fazel Bhana – misrepresented Aurora’s ability to pay for Pamodzi Gold mines in 2009 when its previous owner was placed under provisional liquidation, the court said in its judgment. It also blamed the men for overseeing the decay of assets and the loss of 5 000 jobs. Zuma, while not involved in the bid process, showed “reckless disregard” for his role as Aurora’s chairperson, the judge ruled.
The liquidators estimated the damages at R1.7 billion, court documents showed. Lawyers for Ngubane, Mandela and the Bhanas have approached the union Solidarity to discuss a possible settlement on unpaid salaries, according to Gideon du Plessis, general secretary at the labour organisation.
Salary payouts will be capped at R28 000 per worker under liquidation regulations, Du Plessis said.
The approach to Solidarity wasn’t an admission of liability, said David Swartz, a lawyer for the four directors. The directors will “start negotiations” as “a gesture of good faith”.
On the police inquiry, Swartz said “good luck to them” and declined to comment further.