Gupta-owned mine work­ers un­paid

Res­cue prac­ti­tioner ex­presses frus­tra­tion over slow pace of re­solv­ing the dis­graced fam­ily’s le­gal is­sues

The Mercury - - NATION - LOYISO SIDIMBA loyiso.sidimba@inl.co.za

THE busi­ness res­cue prac­ti­tioner of a Gupta-owned com­pany has ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment at the slow pace of re­solv­ing the lat­est le­gal wran­gle in­volv­ing the con­tro­ver­sial fam­ily.

Shiva Ura­nium busi­ness res­cue prac­ti­tioner Chris Monyela yes­ter­day told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia that he was grow­ing frus­trated and dis­ap­pointed at still hav­ing the mat­ter un­re­solved, a sit­u­a­tion which has left scores of work­ers un­paid for five months.

He said it was caus­ing a lot of un­cer­tainty and anx­i­ety to work­ers and other cred­i­tors, and ev­ery­thing has ground to a halt.

Last month, Shiva Ura­nium em­ploy­ees ap­proached the Com­pa­nies and In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Com­mis­sion (CIPC) in a bid to re­ceive their salaries for July, dur­ing which they got only 30% of pay, and the sub­se­quent months of Au­gust, Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, in which they were not paid at all.

All em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit con­tri­bu­tions such as re­tire­ment fund con­tri­bu­tions, in­sur­ance, out­stand­ing taxes and statu­tory pay­ments have also not been paid since July.

The anx­ious em­ploy­ees joined 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 un­law­fully ap­pointed Tayob and Jan­uarie in an at­tempt to dis­rupt the plac­ing un­der busi­ness res­cue of the 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 (in­clud­ing di­rec­tors) of var­i­ous com­pa­nies in busi­ness res­cue that un­scrupu­lously par­took in an or­ches­trated and well-de­vised strat­a­gem since March 2018 at the in­stance of the Gupta fam­ily to gen­er­ate vex­a­tious lit­i­ga­tion in an at­tempt to ha­rass busi­ness res­cue prac­ti­tion­ers,” read Monyela’s ex­plo­sive af­fi­davit filed at the tri­bunal last month.

Monyela said the plan was 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 per­son­ally ini­ti­at­ing sev­eral of th­ese ap­pli­ca­tions to block them from res­cu­ing the Gupta-owned com­pa­nies un­der busi­ness res­cue in­clud­ing Op­ti­mum Coal Ter­mi­nal.

IEm­ploy­ees of Shiva, which con­ducted ura­nium, gold and coal min­ing op­er­a­tions be­fore it was placed un­der su­per­vi­sion, also raised con­cerns about Tayob and Jan­uary 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. Un­for­tu­nately, 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.

Last month, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said al­most 200 Shiva em­ploy­ees had not re­ceived their salaries since July.

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