/ 12 December 2011

Broke Aurora miners plead for help ahead of Christmas

Penniless Aurora miners have issued a letter pleading for help as one of the company’s politically connected directors faces criminal charges for snubbing a court inquiry.

“We [will have] a black Christmas for [the third time] this year: without food, clothes, toys or school uniforms. So we are please asking you to help us with whatever you’ve got,” states the letter, according to Timeslive.co.za.

It was written on behalf of the 43 miners who still live at the stripped Grootvlei Mine in Springs, on Johannesburg’s East Rand.

Business Times reported at the weekend that former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson Zondwa Mandela was to face criminal charges for failing to arrive for an inquiry by the master of the North Gauteng High Court this week.

This is after Johan Engelbrecht, the lead liquidator of Pamodzi Gold assets, was quoted saying that they planned to lay the charges in the coming week.

Aurora Empowerment Systems, which was led by Zondwa and President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma, was singled out as the preferred bidder for Pamodzi’s mines when they went into liquidation in 2009.

Its management contract has since been cancelled after the company was accused of destroying infrastructure at the mines and causing the loss of more than 5 300 jobs.

The inquiry, which is in line with Sections 417 and 418 of the Companies Act, seeks to investigate the conduct of Aurora and its directors and managers after the company took possession of the assets from Pamodzi.

The inquiry is also probing the conclusion of the interim contract and mining agreement between Aurora and liquidators of Pamodzi.

Trade union Solidarity brought an application to have Aurora liquidated as part of its claim for R3.1-million in unpaid wages to workers at the two mines. — Sapa