Sheik fails to honour R155 000 payment due to former manager
THE owner of Thaba Manzi Game Farm near Humansdorp, Sheik Khalaf Al Otaiba, still has not paid a former reserve manager the R155 000 owed to him following a February 27 Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) unfair dismissal ruling.
Jeffreys Bay attorney Fanus Heystek, who is representing Jaco Bester, said on Thursday that the matter was now headed back to the CCMA.
“Jaco has not been paid out yet, but we received consent from the sheik’s attorneys on Wednesday that we can apply to the Labour Court to have the matter referred back to the commission, which will speed the process up as much as possible,” he said.
“With Jaco down and out financially we’re pursuing this route as the best option and we’re confident of getting the same order from the commission – after which there cannot be a repeat request for review.”
The CCMA ruling, which called for the payment to be made by March 10, awarded R155 000 to Bester for salary and leave owed.
He was dismissed after tackling his bosses on the need for more money to maintain fencing and care for the game.
On March 30, with this deadline having been missed, the sheriff of the court arrived at Thaba Manzi to attach property.
The sheriff pulled back after Al Otaiba’s representatives deposited surety covering the money owed but they then submitted an application to have the ruling reviewed.
Al Otaiba’s other reserve, Blaauwbosch Private Game Reserve between Uitenhage and Steytlerville, was also in the spotlight last month after the provincial environment department ordered that one of its elephants, which was repeatedly escaping, be shot.
The shooting sparked an outcry from conservationists who said if the authorities had clamped down sooner on the owner after previous evidence of mismanagement – including not maintaining electrified fences and failing to address elephant herd dynamics – the shooting could have been avoided.
The department said it had issued warning notices to Al Otaiba regarding the management of both Blaauwbosch and Thaba Manzi.
A spokesman for Al Otaiba – who is a prominent member of a powerful United Arab Emirates dynasty – said Blaauwbosch had done all it could to prevent the shooting and contain the elephant.
Ahmed Elgarib said it was untrue that the power was often down in their fences, as stated by Cockscomb Agricultural Association chairman Victor Watson.