Another Gupta company fails to pay workers
YET ANOTHER Gupta-owned company is embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over employees who have not been paid since July.
Shiva Uranium employees have approached the Companies Tribunal of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) in a bid to be paid their salaries for July, during which they got only 30% of their pay, and the subsequent months of August, September and October, in which they were not paid at all.
None of the employment benefit contributions, such as retirement fund contributions, insurance, outstanding taxes and statutory payments, have been paid since July.
The anxious employees joined Shiva Uranium business rescue practitioner Chris Monyela’s bid to have two other business rescue practitioners, Mahomed Mahier Tayob and Eugene Januarie, removed.
Monyela told the tribunal that Shiva Uranium chief executive George van der Merwe had unlawfully appointed Tayob and Januarie to disrupt the placing under business rescue of another former Gupta company.
Van der Merwe was also chief executive of two other Gupta-owned companies, Optimum Mine and Koornfontein Mines, which are both under business rescue.
”Van der Merwe was part of the pre-existing management of various companies in business rescue that unscrupulously partook in an orchestrated and well-devised stratagem since March 2018, at the insistence of the Gupta family, to generate vexatious litigation in an attempt to harass business rescue practitioners,” reads Monyela’s explosive affidavit, filed at the tribunal last month.
Monyela said the plan had been to prevent business rescue practitioners from attending to their task of rescuing these companies and to remove the other business rescue practitioner, Juanito Damons, and himself.
Damons was appointed by another business rescue practitioner, Cloete Murray, and Monyela. Murray later resigned.
Monyela accused Van der Merwe of initiating several of these applications to block them from rescuing the Gupta-owned companies under business rescue, including Optimum Coal Terminal.
Monyela said Van der Merwe had led the Guptas’ vexatious attempts to stage-manage urgent High Court applications to keep business rescue practitioners and their lawyers from attending to the rehabilitation, supervision and management of the rescue companies under their auspices and control.
In the affidavit, Monyela accuses Van der Merwe of being party to the mismanagement of Shiva and other companies in the rescue, the dereliction of statutory and fiduciary duties, and the misappropriation of funds for the benefit of the Gupta family.
”Needless to say, the financial hardships that inevitably befell Shiva and the other companies in rescue, and which have caused massive disruptions to creditors and employees, followed as a direct result of this highly unlawful and irregular conduct,” he said.
Tayob and Januarie responded to Monyela’s application by saying he had failed to make out a case for the relief he seeks and asked the tribunal to grant them a punitive costs order against him in his personal capacity for conduct that was “vexatious, unscrupulous, dilatory and mendacious, abuse of legal process and unreasonableness”.
Employees of Shiva, which conducted uranium, gold and coal mining operations before it was placed under supervision, also raised concerns about Tayob and Januarie and threatened to march to the CIPC’s offices if they were not removed.
”We see all these actions as deliberate to disrupt normal operations at the mine resulting in us again not receiving our salaries. As workers, we will certainly not entertain the appointments of these two gentlemen as additional business rescue practitioners. We have suffered enough!” Shiva employees warned CIPC officials on October 17.