Motala sues for R150m in lost pay
Former liquidator launches damages claim against department of justice and deputy master of the high court
Contentious former liquidator Enver Motala may finally get his day in court, but when he does, he’ll have to explain a trail of allegedly forged emails, as well as his conviction on 92 counts of fraud. Motala was banned from practising as a liquidator in 2011, in part for his role in handing two East Rand gold mines to Khulubuse Zuma and Zondwa Mandela’s Aurora Empowerment Systems.
Motala has always claimed that he was the victim of a well-orchestrated conspiracy that he alleges has cost him R50 million a year in lost income.
“This was a calculated campaign against me,” Motala told City Press on Thursday. “There has been an attempt by people who were part of the entire conspiracy against me to tarnish my image.”
In addition to his application in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to be reinstated as a liquidator, he has also launched a damages claim for R150 million against the department of justice and the deputy master of the high court Christene Rossouw in her personal capacity.
But Motala says the figure could rise to R250 million or more.
“The R150 million was only up to September 2014. Every year, it increases by R50 million, until the case is heard,” he said.
The master’s office is defending both court actions and has repeatedly stressed in court papers that the decision to remove Motala was justified and followed all proper procedures.
Motala’s application, which has dragged on since 2011, is scheduled to finally be heard this year, but if he is going to persuade the court to reinstated him as a liquidator he’ll need to answer some difficult questions about Aurora and his past.
Depending on who you speak to, Motala’s meteoric rise from smalltime sugar merchant and cash-andcarry store owner to one of the country’s most powerful liquidators is either a shining success story, or a result of his political connections. Secret R3m loan
One of the central pieces of evidence that led to Motala’s removal was a secret R3 million loan he made to Aurora. In an affidavit submitted to the court last year as part of his application for reinstatement, he said there was a point at which he knew that if he didn’t help the company, the takeover deal would collapse and the gold mines along with it.
This was in January 2010, and Zuma and Mandela’s mining company had barely been in charge of the mines for a month, but desperately needed bridging finance to pay salaries and basic costs.
Motala claims that with the urging of the major creditor – HypoVereinsbank (HVB) in Germany – he dipped into his own pocket and gave Aurora a R3 million loan.
According to the master’s office, the secret loan perpetuated the false impression that Aurora could afford to pay for the mines. They also argue that while workers went without salaries, Motala had his loan promptly repaid.
Yet Motala insists his decision to lend Aurora the money was done purely to protect its 5 500 workers.
“[Frank] Biburger [from HVB] asked me whether I would be amenable to assisting Aurora with a loan,” Motala stated in his affidavit. “I understood the serious implications if the salaries and wages of the employees continued to be unpaid. As Biburger put it to me, if the employees embarked on strike action, Aurora would be forced to exit the deal … I was motivated to help because I had sympathy for the workers engaged by Aurora to perform the care and maintenance and who were in peril of not being paid.”
The problem is, Biburger insists this conversation never happened.
In a supporting affidavit filed last week, Biburger, HVB’s head of mining and metals, stated that he had “no knowledge of the loan of R3 million between Motala and Aurora”, and “was never approached concerning such a loan”. Allegedly faked emails
To support his claim about HVB’s involvement in the R3 million loan, Motala attached two emails between Aurora consultant Fazel Bhana and Biburger in which the loan was discussed. Motala says in his affidavit that he received these emails from Bhana. But Biburger alleges that the emails submitted by Motala are fake. In both cases, the time stamps and subject line exactly match emails that he exchanged with Bhana, but the content of the emails are completely different ( visit citypress.co.za to compare the emails). Bhana did not respond to requests for comment this week. On Thursday, Motala would only say: “I don’t want to get into the merits of the matter because it’s sub judice.” Credit card fraud The decision to remove Motala from the countrywide panel of liquidators in 2011 stems not only from his dealings with Aurora, but also from the revelation that he was convicted of 92 counts of credit card fraud in 1978 when he was 25 years old and known as Enver Dawood. Motala initially denied any connection to Dawood or his criminal record, but later claimed that he was under the mistaken impression that his conviction would have automatically lapsed after 10 years. In 2012, as part of his fight to be reinstated, Motala applied for a presidential pardon, claiming that he took the rap for his uncle, Yusuf Patel, who in 1978 was an ANC activist and was planning to flee the country.
“Unbeknown to me at the time, he had received a credit card in the mail, it having been sent to the wrong address, and he proceeded to make small withdrawals with the card,” Motala wrote in his 2012 application.
When police tracked Motala down in 1978 – after his car was spotted by a concerned bank manager – Motala said he admitted to the crime in order to protect his uncle.
“I immediately told the police officials that I was responsible for making the withdrawals against the credit card ... In so doing, I ensured that no further investigation was done into the matter and that Patel would be able to make good his escape … I urge the Honourable State President to have regard for the fact that I took the blame in the interest of the general good and unselfishly,” he stated in his 2012 application.
Patel has since died and cannot confirm Motala’s story but, as part of his application, Motala submitted letters of support from both Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the ANC’s head of security, Titus Maleka, in which they both described him as “a person of integrity, dedication, commitment and high moral standing”.
Motala’s application was granted in 2013, and his criminal record was wiped clean. He argues in court papers that this clears the way for him to be reappointed to the countrywide panel of liquidators.
In court papers filed last week, the master’s office made it clear they would oppose any attempt by Motala to be reinstated as a liquidator.