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Minister in gold mine ownership wrangle

By Auxilia Katongomara

SPORT, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa has been sucked in a mine ownership dispute with claims that he was fraudulently given shares in a Filabusi gold mine.

Minister Andrew Langa
Minister Andrew Langa

On Friday, the High Court ordered Langa’s Israeli partners not to interfer with operations at the mine.

Israelis Reoven Meyer Dray and Avi Habot were initially in a partnership with a Filabusi couple Nqobile Khumalo and Francisca Mufambi, but later ditched them and roped in the minister.

The couple went to court citing Dray, Habot and a local Dorcas Tiwaringe as respondents and Justice Martin Makonese granted a final order in favour of Khumalo and his wife for the Israelis to stop operations.

Langa, who had a 10 percent shareholding negotiated with the Israelis, was not cited in the court application as Khumalo and Mufambi said they did not recognise the deal he had entered into with the foreign investors.

They chose to sue Dray and Habot whom they initially had an agreement with.

Yesterday, Langa confirmed that he was part of Triniac Investments but had not yet received the High Court order.

“Yes I’m part of Triniac Investments but I haven’t been following the case and I’m not aware of the order, they haven’t served me with it,” he said.

Khumalo’s lawyer Norman Mugiya said they have confirmation from the Registrar of Companies showing that Langa was one of the company’s directors, so he was bound by the court order to leave the company in his clients’ hands.

“The order directly affects the minister. The order refers to directors of the company, they’re the main shareholders. According to a document we got from the Registrar of Companies, the CR 14, he is one of those controlling the company,” said Mugiya.

“If he doesn’t comply with the order, we’ll apply for contempt of court. He isn’t the President, he can be sued. These people are difficult to work with, they’ve never complied even with the provisional order to stop operations at the mine, they continued working and looting. I’ve a strong feeling that we’ll be back in court soon.”

Justice Makonese’s final order directed the respondents not to interfere with the applicants’ operations at the mine.

“The respondents are hereby interdicted from selling mining equipment situated on the mine in question or anywhere else unless in terms of the law. The respondents are hereby interdicted from going to the mine known as Eric 21, Triniac Investments, Filabusi,” reads the order.

The judge also ordered the respondents to pay costs of the suit on a client to attorney scale.

In the initial application, Mugiya stated that his clients were ordered out of the mine by Langa and his colleagues through a provisional order in 2011.

“Our clients own a mine in Insiza Rural District Council called Trianic Investments (Private) Ltd. However, they were muscled out of their mine by the Member of Parliament of the area, Langa, and colleagues, who have since made themselves directors of the company,” read the notice filed by Mugiya and Macharaga Legal Practitioners.

Khumalo and Mufambi were allegedly served with a fake provisional order allegedly obtained at the Bulawayo High Court on December 7, 2011.

When lawyers checked with the courts in January last year, they established that the file did not exist in the system and was not even registered in the Registrar’s Index.

According to the fake High Court provisional order, Justice Nicholas Ndou had allegedly dissolved the directorship of Khumalo and Mufambi and ordered them to pay $4,000 and not to interfere with operations of the mine.

They were also interdicted from exercising their signing powers with the company’s Agribank and Stanbic Bank accounts.

According to the court documents, in July 2011, Khumalo was introduced to Dray and Habot, who declared their interest in mining and subsequently established a joint venture.

Khumalo hired one Msindo Ncube to do the pegging and the latter was paid $2,000 by Dray. He then secured accommodation for the two Israelis at Langa’s Inyanda Lodge before introducing them to each other.

Khumalo then contracted the Environment Management Agency to do an Environmental Impact Assessment for (EIA) $4,200. The stamp mill parts were delivered to the site, houses for staff constructed and electricity and water connected.

Khumalo, however, started having disputes with the Israelis after they accused him of inflating the invoice of pegging the mine from $200 to $2,000 and that of EIA from $2,000 to $5,000.

Khumalo, who insisted he did not inflate the figures, allegedly sought Langa’s assistance. The minister advised him to agree to a buyout offer by the Israelis, but he rejected it. After that, he received the fake High Court provisional order dissolving Mufambi’s and his directorship, leading to a court battle that culminated in last Friday’s court order. The Chronicle