Oilgate kingpin's family sues for chrome firm

Sandi Majali. (MG)

Sandi Majali. (MG)

Lawyers representing his wife and son asked the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg last week to review an arbitrator’s decision that awarded ownership of an R800-million chrome extraction company to Majali’s former business partner. The application was lodged by Majali’s son, Philip Majali, and his wife, Alice.

Arguing that Majali’s former company, Imvume Resources, is “the sole member and shareholder of Siyanda Chrome Investment (SCI), that it is entitled to appoint SCI’s directors and is entitled to dividends payments for SCI”, they want the arbitration award corrected or set aside.

They claim that the arbitrator did not hear Majali’s side of the dispute.

The legal battle over the ownership of Siyanda dates back to 2009 when Majali took his former business partner, Lindani Mthwa, to court. Both claimed to hold all the shares in the Northern Cape chrome extraction company, which has a 26% stake in a joint venture with Rustenburg Platinum Miners, a subsidiary of Anglo Platinum.

They agreed to arbitration, which ultimately found in Mthwa’s favour.

The applicants in the current case say Mthwa testified at the arbitration that he realised it would be difficult to raise money to erect the extraction plant and so established contact with Limpopo economic and finance minister Thaba Mufamadi. The latter put him in touch with Majali, who had been “approved by the ANC leadership” and had cash. But the planned partnership turned sour when Majali failed to secure funding and the pair parted ways. Mthwa testified that he then formed a venture with Anglo Platinum, which funded the project in return for shares.

In October 2010 the arbitrator dismissed claims by Majali and Imvume that they were the sole shareholders of Siyanda and ruled that they were not entitled to the repayment of dividends from the company. Majali filed an appeal against the ruling weeks before he was found dead in a Sandton Hotel in December 2010.

“No evidence was led by Majali or Imvume, hence we are challenging the arbitration ruling,” said Majali’s lawyer, John Ngcebetsha.

An affidavit in support of the applicants by an employee at Gobodo Chartered Accountants, Dennis Bishop, states that Majali instructed Gobodo to acquire a shelf company to house Siyanda and to transfer shares from its predecessor, Marble Gold, to Imvume. This led to an Imvume share certificate being generated.

Majali came to public attention during the oilgate saga in which he “donated” R11-million paid to him by state-owned PetroSA to the ANC ahead of the 2004 elections. At the time of his death, he was facing fraud charges in connection with the alleged “hijacking” of mining company Kalahari Resources.

Meanwhile, the Mail & Guardian has established that, two years after Majali’s unexplained death, the inquest is yet to be finalised. Police spokesperson Lungile Dlamini said the histology and toxicology reports were still outstanding.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

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