Mandela, Zuma-linked mining firm liquidated: creditor

4th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

A South African court on Tuesday liquidated the gold mining company owned by relatives of former president Nelson Mandela and current head of state Jacob Zuma, a creditor said.

Mining company Aurora Empowerment Systems is accused of running to the ground two gold mines south of Johannesburg in the world's fourth-largest gold producer. The firm is co-owned by a grandson of Mandela and a nephew of Zuma.

"We've just been granted liquidation this morning in the South Gauteng High Court" against Aurora, said Ian Cussons, head of Copper Eagle, which had gone to court after the company failed to pay a nine-million-rand ($1-million, 821,000-euro) debt.

"That was recklesss management on the shareholders' side," said Cussons of Aurora's directors Zondwa Mandela, Khulubuse Zuma, and Michael Hulley, who is President Zuma's lawyer.

Salaries of more than 5,000 mineworkers went unpaid during Aurora's two-year running of the mines, with one even committing suicide by drinking rat poison because of his troubles, a trade union claimed.

Infrastructure was stripped to such a point that considerable investment is needed to get them running again.

Meanwhile, Khulubuse Zuma came under fire in April this year for pledging one million rands to ruling African National Congress. He claimed to have paid money over for salaries, but this never reached the workers.

Liquidators are expected to claim 1.7 billion rands from the directors for running the mines into the ground.

"The liquidation order will hopefully result in the directors of Aurora Empowerment Systems being brought to book for their mismanagement and self-enrichment," said Gideon du Plessis, an official with trade union Solidarity, in a statement.

In August this year a Chinese company bid to buy out one of the gold mines.

© 2011 AFP

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