National 7.9.2016 06:03 pm

Khulubuse Zuma ‘agrees’ to settle R23m to Aurora liquidators

FILE PICTURE: Khulubuse Zuma, chairman of the liquidated Aurora Empowerment Systems, outside the Justice Department offices in Pretoria, South Africa on January 16, 2012 during a break in the liquidation inquiry. Zuma is the newphew of President Jacob Zuma. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Lebohang Mashiloane)

FILE PICTURE: Khulubuse Zuma, chairman of the liquidated Aurora Empowerment Systems, outside the Justice Department offices in Pretoria, South Africa on January 16, 2012 during a break in the liquidation inquiry. Zuma is the newphew of President Jacob Zuma. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Lebohang Mashiloane)

Khulubuse Zuma has ‘agreed’ to pay R23 million in damages to the Pamodzi and Aurora liquidators.

This ends six years of lawsuits and delays in the Aurora saga, trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday.

This comes after Zuma, the controversial nephew of President Jacob Zuma, and his fellow directors at Aurora Empowerment Systems were last year found jointly and severally liable for damage amounting to R1.7 billion in connection with stripping Pamodzi Gold mine assets, and causing the loss of thousands of jobs.

General secretary of Solidarity Gideon Du Plessis said that Zuma had more to lose by not paying than to risk a sequestration order, which would have prompted an inquiry to be called into his financial affairs.

“At least Khulubuse should be commended for agreeing to pay, though he could probably afford more. He could have done it sooner. He understands that this is not an admission of guilt, but a responsibility he has,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis said Zuma had already made the first payment of R5 million and had to pay a further R500 000 by the end of business on Wednesday.

“Subsequently, Zuma must pay the next R16 million in monthly payments of R500 000, whereas the final R2 million would be paid in R100 000 monthly payments until the full R23 million has been settled,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis said negotiations between the parties commenced two months ago, and were finalised a week ago, after a means test was done on Zuma’s estate, as he had argued that R23 million was the maximum amount he could afford.

An application launched by Zuma and five Aurora directors application for leave to appeal a high court judgment that held them personally liable for damages of R1.7 billion was dismissed in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in May.

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“Zuma has submitted an affidavit to court with a signed agreement that he will pay. On 25 October the matter will be heard in court and made an order of the court,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis urged former Aurora workers who had not registered compensation claims to do so immediately as a meeting of creditors would be held soon to determine how the proceeds are distributed.

“The employees will now receive part of their outstanding monies from the Zuma settlement and the income from the selling of the Bhana’s assets,” Du Plessis said.

“Workers are the first creditors. I’m not sure whether they will receive the full R28,000 as stipulated by the Insolvency Act, and if there is any money left, other creditors will be paid,” Du Plessis said.

The attorney for the liquidators of Pamodzi Gold and Aurora, John Walker, said all creditors’ claims would have to be taken into account.

“All the creditors, including the workers, will have to prove their claims. And once that is done, the liquidators will disburse the monies according to certain laws stipulated by Insolvency Act,” Walker said.

Attempts to get comment from Zuma’s spokesperson, Vuyo Mkhize, were unsuccessful.

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Meanwhile, the Bhana family members who were involved in the destruction of Aurora, were sequestrated in a court order in the North Gauteng High Court also on Wednesday.

“Solly, Fazel and Zubeida Bhana and Yaseem Theba have repeatedly failed to comply with the R5.9 million damages agreement and have consequently been sequestrated today – in spite of their legal representatives continued efforts to postpone the court proceedings of today – as has been the norm in the past,” Du Plessis said.

“Fortunately the criminal charges against the Bhanas will continue and Solidarity appeals to the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute the Bhanas and their accomplices as soon as possible.”

Du Plessis said an application for the liquidation of Thulani Ngubane, Zondwa Mandela and Feroza Bhana and Shamilla Essay, the other Aurora directors, would follow in due course.

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