Creditors are gunning for Aurora

2011-05-28 17:13

Creditors are sharpening their teeth for the directors of embattled mining company Aurora Empowerment Systems.

Aurora has been given until tomorrow to vacate the Pamodzi mines in Orkney and Springs. The directors include President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela.

If Aurora does not restore the mining operations at the mines to what they were before they started running it, as stipulated in the interim trading contract, Aurora faces claims of at least R100 million in damages for plundering the mines.

“It is going to be open season for the creditors,” Gideon du Plessis, deputy general secretary of Solidarity, said yesterday. “Aurora owes Eskom R56 million, AngloGold Ashanti R50 million, workers R12 million and Rand Water millions.”

Aurora’s woes increased tenfold this week while the firm was entertaining possible Chinese investors.

On Monday two of the six liquidators – Enver Motala and the head of KPMG’s liquidation division, Gavin Gainsford – were dismissed as liquidators shortly after Solidarity applied for a liquidation order of R3.1 million against Aurora.

On Friday, liquidators ordered Aurora to leave the mines by Monday.

Thulani Ngubane, commercial director of Aurora, said yesterday: “It’s a loss for the country, especially when we have the (possible) investors here. It puts us in a weaker position.”

Ngubane said while the company would vacate the mines by Monday, it was looking into the legality of the order.

Aurora has until the end of the month to oppose the liquidation application, otherwise the matter would be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on June 7.

“In the event of a liquidation, we will ask for an insolvency inquiry to be conducted, which is likely to lead to criminal charges against Aurora’s directors for reckless trading and mismanagement of the mining assets,” Du Plessis said.

Aurora is responsible for plunging 40 000 people into abject poverty after not paying them for more than a year. One suicide and four attempted suicides by workers of the mine have been reported.

A few weeks ago Kobus Jansen van Rensburg wanted to kill his entire family and take his life. The family had reached a point where they were faced with eviction from their house.

“That was my breaking point,” said Jansen van Rensburg.

He changed his mind after strangers donated R150 000 to help the family keep their house after hearing about their plight on radio this week.

“I don’t have words. How do you thank strangers who have managed to give you hope again” asked Jansen van Rensburg.

– Additional reporting by Celinda Groenewald

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