Aurora runs out of road

13 May 2016 - 01:01 By SHAUN SMILLIE

Former employees of Aurora have described the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment against the directors of the doomed company as a victory that brings them closer to getting the salaries they have been owed for six years.The court yesterday dismissed an appeal by the directors of Aurora Empowerment Systems against a Pretoria High Court ruling that they are liable for up to R1.7-billion in damages and unpaid salaries.The high court concluded that they had acted recklessly and fraudulently when they assumed control of the Pamodzi assets. The mines were made idle and stripped of assets, leaving some employees without pay for months.Trade union Solidarity said the ruling meant that the company had to pay damages, and the salaries of 5300 employees, immediately or face sequestration."It gives us hope but we still need to be paid," former Aurora employee Caiphus Zulu said yesterday.Another former worker, Terra Dimane, said the ruling was "very good news".He said he had not worked since being fired by Aurora in 2010.Dimane said some workers had died waiting for the decision.Aurora's directors include President Jacob Zuma's nephew, Khulubuze Zuma, Nelson Mandela's grandson, Zondwa Mandela, Thulani Ngubani, and Solly and Fazel Bhana.The company took control of the Pamodzi group's East Rand and Orkney gold mines in 2009, when the group was put into provisional liquidation."The situation now is that there are no more appeals," said John Walker, attorney for the liquidators of Aurora and Pamodzi.He said Aurora could approach the Constitutional Court if it could present its case as a constitutional issue, which it had not previously."If they do , the liquidators would push for sequestration in the interim."Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the Appeal Court ruling marked the end of five years of "evading and frustrating" the justice system."More criminal investigations into corruption and gross mismanagement, and possibly prosecution, will follow straight away," Du Plessis said.David Swartz, representing Mandela, Ngubane and the Bhanas, said that they would study the judgment before deciding on a further course of action...

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