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.

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