/ 30 May 2011

Aurora liquidators deny claims of bias

Aurora Empowerment Systems was never given preference because of its political connections, axed Pamodzi Gold liquidator Enver Motala said on Monday.

“There is simply no truth to this,” Motala said in a 14-page media statement, in which he again vowed to challenge his dismissal from the case.

Days after Motala and another joint liquidator, Gavin Gainsford, were removed from the matter, Aurora was given its marching orders by the four remaining liquidators.

Motala maintained that there was no truth in allegations that Aurora was kept on as the preferred bidder for the financially-stricken Pamodzi Gold mines just because of the identities of its directors.

Aurora is run by President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma, Zuma’s legal adviser Michael Hulley, and former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson Zondwa Mandela.

This was just coincidence, said Motala.

“Liquidators are, by law, required to act without fear or favour and in the best interests of the creditors of liquidated estates.

“In these estates, we have [done] just that under extremely difficult circumstances, notwithstanding the complexity of these estates.”

Business Day reported on Monday that Aurora’s removal had sparked fresh interest from other potential buyers.

Trade unions Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers welcomed Aurora’s removal.

It was told to vacate the mines’ premises by Monday.

Motala and Gainsford were part of a group of six liquidators jointly appointed to manage the assets of Pamodzi Gold mines in Springs, on the East Rand, and Orkney, in North West.

The justice department fired the pair to “safeguard the integrity of the liquidation process”, its spokesperson Tlali Tlali said last week.

The four remaining liquidators are Johan Engelbrecht of Icon Insolvency, Allan Pellow of Westrust, Barend Petersen of De Beers Consolidated Mines and Deon Botha of Corporate Liquidation.

The saga has dragged on since Pamodzi went into liquidation in 2009, after which the liquidators accepted a R600-million bid by Aurora for the mines.

However, mineworkers were left unpaid and reports emerged of the mines’ assets being stripped, a claim that was denied by Motala.

Solidarity served a liquidation application amounting to R3.1-million on Aurora earlier this year to force the mining company to pay outstanding salaries or close its doors. — Sapa