BMW in R60m pen­sion bat­tle

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - FRANCESCA VILLETTE

AU­TO­MO­BILE gi­ant BMW’s prop­erty has been or­dered to be pub­licly auc­tioned to make up nearly R60 mil­lion owed to for­mer em­ploy­ees.

David Mahlatsi and 1 390 other for­mer em­ploy­ees took the BMW pen­sion fund and its board of trus­tees to court to get them to pay money they say are owed to them since 2008.

The group ar­gued that BMW de­clared a sur­plus, then worth R28m, due to mem­bers who were there dur­ing 1980 and 2003.

For the plain­tiffs, Thandiwe Mosha­bane, from Mosha­bane at­tor­neys, said she had been ne­go­ti­at­ing with the par­ties since 2010.

But BMW pen­sion fund had re­fused or ne­glected to pay its for­mer em­ploy­ees, Mosha­bane said.

She said she faced a num­ber of chal­lenges, in­clud­ing that the pen­sion pay­out prin­ci­pal of­fi­cer sent the sum­mons to the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Board, which later also said it wanted to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions in court.

With lim­ited re­sources, Mosha­bane said the case was one of her tough­est.

“We asked them not to (make rep­re­sen­ta­tions), be­cause the mat­ter did not in­volve them, but they would not lis­ten,” she said.

Mosha­bane said the fund as well as the board were sum­monsed in July last year and did not en­ter an ap­pear­ance to de­fend.

She said she then ap­plied for a de­fault judg­ment, which the Pre­to­ria High Court granted.

“We sued be­cause the de­fen­dants, de­spite de­mand, re­fused to pay the sur­plus. This case was han­dled by a black fe­male, who worked alone. It is one of the big­gest cases I ever worked on,” Mosha­bane said.

In a war­rant of ex­e­cu­tion handed down last week, the court di­rected to at­tach the mov­able goods of the BMW pen­sion fund and its board of trus­tees, and be pub­licly auc­tioned for R54 544 233.

BMW was not avail­able for com­ment.

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