Deodorant firm sues Cele’s former spin doctor

2013-02-27 00:00

FORMER police boss Bheki Cele’s spin doctor failed to pay for a charter jet that nearly sank a multi-million rand deodorant advertising campaign.

That was the thrust of testimony in the Durban high court yesterday where consumable goods giant Unilever is seeking R4,6 million from Vuyo Mkhize and his company, Kapital Mindz.

For his part, Mkhize is countersuing the company for R7,6 million he claims is owing to him for putting together a major marketing strategy to promote two of Unilever’s Axe underarm products.

Part of his lawsuit includes management fees amounting to R4,5 million, which he never received. Unilever said he failed to deliver on his contract terms, and thus wasn’t paid.

The rest of Mkhize’s counterclaim is for the costs of using various media partners, which Unilever insists was never part of the arrangement.

Mkhize was verbally contracted in 2007 to help conceptualise and arrange a promotion for Unilever, including a trip to Ibiza in Spain for 100 guests.

The Spanish jaunt was the focus of testimony yesterday, in particular the type of jet to be hired and Mkhize’s role in securing the aircraft.

On the day of departure on August 18, 2007, Unilever discovered they had no aeroplane booked and had to make emergency plans to fly their guests over, and accommodate them.

Rescuing the trip, says Unilever, cost them additional funds, the sum of their claim against Mkhize.

Jordan Wallace, a member of Unilever’s marketing team, testified that they had a R5 million budget that extended to travel, accommodation and entertainment.

He said the onus of providing the charter flight fell to Mkhize as an outside contractor.

Wallace, on the stand for a second day, denied assertions by Mkhize’s advocate Griffit Madonsela that he undermined Mkhize by suggesting charter company, Keystone.

Several quotations were obtained from Keystone, in particular its former owner Rowan Vlaming, for a range of aircraft, which varied in size and quality as the dimensions of the project changed.

Vlaming said as they got closer to departure, he found it increasingly difficult to reach Mkhize for a deposit to secure an aircraft. Eventually, the deadline for payment lapsed.

Madonsela will continue tomorrow with cross-examination of Vlaming. The trial is set down for the rest of the week.

• brett.horner@witness.co.za

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