Aurora lawyers question validity of R1,5bn claim

Advocate Louis Hollander says there is flimsy evidence to say the liquidators are owed billions.

FILE: More than 5,000 jobs were lost, and Aurora miners have been waiting for more than five years to be paid. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Lawyers representing Aurora directors Zondwa Mandela and Thulani Ngubane have questioned the validity of a R1,5 billion claim against them.

The pair, along with the president's nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, has been accused of recklessly mismanaging the mines they took over in 2009.

More than 5,000 jobs were lost, and miners have been waiting for more than five years to be paid.

Advocate Louis Hollander is representing Aurora directors, as well as business partners Fazel and Solly Bhana.

Hollander has argued that they had to secure funds from a Malaysian investor who never paid out, which put Aurora in a difficult financial position.

Liquidators say Aurora committed fraud when concluding the deal, arguing the company's bid document was fraudulent because it did not have the money to take over the Pamodzi Gold mines.

Hollander has also pointed out that there is flimsy evidence to say the liquidators are owed billions of rands.

Yesterday, former Aurora mineworkers gathered outside the High Court in Pretoria, demanding that the company's directors pay their outstanding salaries.

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers were among those protesting outside the court, demanding justice be done.

They want Aurora directors to be held accountable for their actions.

MALAYSIAN INVESTOR

The court heard that Aurora Directors secured funds from a Malaysian investor to keep the company afloat.

But the funds never materialised, and questions have been asked about how Aurora planned to fund the R600 million offer for the Pamodzi mines.

Zuma maintains that as non-executive director of Aurora, he had nothing to do with the bidding for the mines.

Mandela, Ngubane and their business partners, meanwhile, had apparently received a funding commitment from a Malaysian investor in order to take over the mines from Pamodzi Gold.

Hollander has argued that there was no reason for them not to trust this investor, as Standard Bank had also given its approval.

The international investor however, was apparently put off by a strike at Aurora in 2010, and the funds never materialised.