Varun Gupta at Shiva Uranium. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
Varun Gupta at Shiva Uranium. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

Patience is wearing thin among workers and suppliers at the embattled Shiva Uranium, which has been plunged into limbo as it awaits a decision by the Companies Tribunal 

In October, a dispute arose over the appointment of two new business rescue practitioners to Shiva. 

Christopher Monyela, who was appointed as a practitioner in June, raised the matter with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), and the matter was taken to the Companies Tribunal where it was heard on October 25.

Shiva and eight other Gupta-associated entities were put into business rescue — a provision in law for the rehabilitation for distressed companies — in February, when they lost their banking facilities.

In July Shiva operations were closed and workers have received no income since.

Although there was no disagreement at the hearing that the matter was urgent, Friday marked 21 days since the hearing. Matters at the Tribunal usually reach a resolution within 25 working days.

In the interim, the situation at Shiva is worsening. On Tuesday, the security provider warned it would not be able to secure the property in light of almost three months of nonpayment.

“If we don’t pay them, they will abandon the site,” Monyela said. “It poses a serious risk and will result in the assets being exposed to theft and vandalism.”

Workers too are growing frustrated.

“We still haven’t been paid, we are worried will we ever be paid, or what?” Shiva worker Tumi Matosela said.

“Mr Monyela is taking this to court and its delaying the process.”

Monyela said informal talks had begun over retrenching the workforce as an interim solution so that they could claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Once Shiva is sold, the employees would have first right of refusal to work for the new owner.

This cannot be enacted until the tribunal process is concluded.

Monyela and Cloete Murray and were appointed as business rescue practitioners of Shiva on June 1. In September, Murray resigned and he and Monyela jointly appointed a senior practitioner to replace him.

The CIPC however did not recognise the appointment and said provisions of the Companies Act had not been complied with. It then accepted a separate filing to record two new practitioners — Mohamed Tayob and Eugene Januarie — who were appointed by the Shiva board.

Monyela argued that a board has no authority to make such decisions once in business rescue and took the matter to the Companies Tribunal.

Tayob and Januarie, however, said that in the absence of a senior practitioner, Monyela did not have the authority to administer the company and all decisions taken would have been null and void.

Tayob and Januarie said the tribunal was within its designated timeline and they would await its deliberation.

While  sympathetic to the employees plight, they said, “rumblings from certain employees are sponsored, this is a narrative designed to counter our appointment”.

steynl@businesslive.co.za