A nephew of South African President Jacob Zuma, a grandson of Nelson Mandela and three of their business partners had their case dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal Thursday after an earlier ruling held them responsible for the destruction of gold-mining assets near Johannesburg, labor union Solidarity said.
Khulubuse Zuma and Zondwa Mandela had taken their case to the SCA after Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann of the High Court in Pretoria ruled last year they were “indisputably reckless” in their management of Aurora Empowerment Systems and the five men were personally liable for the company’s failure. This may result in a bill of R1.7 billion, according to Solidarity.
“This judgment is a major victory for the 5,300 workers who have been innocently plunged into poverty, and the rule of law has also triumphed,” Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis said.
According to Du Plessis, it means the Aurora directors have to cough up for damages and pay the outstanding salaries of the 5 300 workers without delay. Should they fail to do so, they would be sequestrated. “More criminal investigations into corruption and gross mismanagement and possible prosecution will follow straightaway,” Du Plessis said.
The company fraudulently misrepresented Aurora’s ability to pay for the Pamodzi Gold Ltd. mines near Johannesburg in 2009 when its previous owner was placed under provisional liquidation, the judge said in June. In the following two years, mine shafts were destroyed and equipment stolen, he said.
Vuyo Mkhize, a spokesman for Zuma, and David Swartz, a lawyer for Mandela and the other three men, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.