Third strike against Dudu Myeni
Dudu Myeni just lost for a third time against the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) in our case to have her declared a delinquent director. In March 2017 OUTA and the SAA Pilots' Association (SAAPA) brought an application in the Pretoria High Court to declare Myeni a delinquent director in terms of section 162(5) of the Companies Act. The application is based on her conduct while she was chairperson of the SAA board from December 2012 until October 2017 when she left the board. During those five years (2012/13 to 2016/17)‚ SAA ran up losses amounting to billions of rand although it had previously been profitable.
This is believed to have been the first application brought to declare a director of a state-owned entity (SOE) a delinquent director.
Myeni brought three applications against OUTA and SAAPA attempting to derail the case after failing to appear at court initially. First, she asked the court if she could change her plea in the case, although she had filed this plea more than two years earlier. She then asked the court to join all the other SAA directors of that time to the case, so that they could share any blame. Myeni also applied to the court to block OUTA from bringing the case, claiming that OUTA did not have legal standing to do this. The court ruled against Myeni in all three matters, and also ordered that she pays the wasted cost for the delays as well as the failed applications.
Judge Ronel Tolmay found that OUTA meets the requirement of public interest, as the organisation represents the interest of taxpayers, who partly foot the bill for SAA. The court also found that it is in the interests of justice to allow OUTA to proceed with the application alongside SAAPA.
Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA's Chief Legal officer, says the ruling is not only a win for OUTA, but a win for civil society. “It’s a win for public interest. The court has said that these types of litigation are very important, and that the public has got an interest in a big state-owned enterprise (SOE) like SAA. That is the importance of litigation like this.”
Matters like this open the door for more litigation in the public’s interest. Today’s judgment is a victory for our Constitution, the legal justice system and all South Africans. South Africans have a voice and it just got louder!
The trial will resume on 27 January 2020 for a period of five weeks.