Ex-SAA chair Dudu Myeni gets her way as court delays start of delinquency case

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The High Court in Pretoria has agreed to delay the start of a delinquent director case against former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni, after her new lawyer was granted an application for postponement.

The order was made on Thursday by presiding Judge Ronel Tolmay, following two court sessions earlier in the week where Myeni did arrive and was without a designated lawyer. 

The case will now resume on October 21 for two weeks. After a delay, proceedings will then recommence on November 25 until December 6.

Myeni, who did not appear in court on Thursday, is now represented by Advocate Nqabayethu Buthelezi. Her two previous lawyers resigned due to a "lack of financial commitment" from the former chairperson of the national airline, who had said she couldn't afford legal services and did not have money for petrol or accommodation to travel from KwaZulu-Natal to Pretoria.

Buthelezi on Thursday said the main reason for a postponement is to allow him time to prepare for the case. In her affidavit, Myeni cited financial constraints for seeking a delay. Before granting the postponement, Judge Tolmay sought assurances from Buthelezi that the case would not be subjected to further delay due to termination of his services. 

Tolmay warned Myeni that her continued non-attendance at court "was at her own peril". She stressed that the matter needed to be dealt with expeditiously, and proceedings would continue regardless of Myeni's presence.

The case to have Myeni declared a delinquent director was lodged two and a half years ago by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse and the SAA Pilots Association.

The two groups have said the dire financial state of the flag carrier during Myeni’s tenure as board chair prompted them to institute legal action against her. If the court declares Myeni a delinquent director, she cannot again work as the director of a company.

OUTA has maintained that the case is of public importance, and that directors of state-owned enterprises have "escaped without any person consequences for their ruinous actions". The organisation had previously said that during Myeni’s term the airline suffered losses of R10.5bn.

The lobby group argued against postponement, saying Myeni had failed to provide a full and honest account of her conduct in the matter. 

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