‘Dead man’ battles 64 cents pay-off

FORMER PG Industries (Zimbabwe) Limited marketing director Nkululeko Mabhena, who has been battling his former employers PG Industries for 18 years, has accused Justice Nicholas Mathonsi and Lawrence Kamocha of colluding with the company to deprive him of his benefits.

BY STAFF REPORTER

The protracted legal battle has seen a number of applications and counter-applications filed at the Bulawayo High Court over terminal benefits and salary arrears amounting to $73 million.

The saga started when Mabhena fell ill and was believed to have died — with doctors at United Bulawayo Hospitals certifying him dead — and the company went on to pay off his funeral expenses before he awakened when his body had been placed in the morgue.

He was eventually discharged from hospital and went back to work, where he was asked to produce a certificate of existence as he was now believed to be dead.

After meeting the employer’s demand, PG Industries, however, refused to take him back, but dismissed him with a payoff of 64 cents.

Mabhena filed an appeal at the High Court demanding that the company pays him terminal benefits and salary arrears.

In the latest instalment, he accuses Justices Mathonsi and Kamocha of poorly handling his case. Justice Mathonsi has since been promoted to the Supreme Court bench.

Mabhena says the two judges failed to deliver their orders in case number HC1713/2009 on October 12, 2010 after the case was heard by Justice Mathonsi and on February 16, 2011 when the matter was passed on to Justice Kamocha, thereby prejudicing him of benefits.

In 2015, PG Industries deposited over $20 000 into Mabhena’s bank account, purporting it to be his terminal benefits, but he argued that the money could only cover his legal fees.

He accuses the two judges and two senior lawyers at Coghlan and Welsh Legal Practitioners — Promise Ncube and Esther Seremani — of colluding in favour of the company.

In a letter of appeal addressed to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Law Society of Zimbabwe seen by Southern Eye, Mabhena, who filed from his base in South Africa where he is in self-exile reportedly fearing for his life, accuses the two judges of personally dabbling into the legal battle, and questions their impartiality in the case.

“Justice Mathonsi and Kamocha have actively and deliberately failed to issue court orders in case HC1713/2009 on October 12, 2010 and February 16, 2011 respectively after hearing the same matter,” Mabhena said.

“This has caused me irreparable harm, financially, economic, professional, psychological, emotional and social damage. Up to date, the two judges deliberately neglected to hand down their court orders on the particular dates in case number HC1713/2009.”

He said the late Justice Andrew Mutema was to give a declaration that the company had not complied with the order to pay him his dues in case number 2343/13 contrary to a “dishonesty” order made by Justice Kamocha in case number HC1/2012.

“In the order HC1/2012, Justice Kamocha claims to have found in record 292/2009 a purported argument by PG Industries (Zimbabwe) Limited in which they proved that they paid me $21 280 salary arrears and benefits, yet I was only entitled to $0,64 at law for all my 16 years of service. The judge deliberately didn’t tell the world the truth,” he said.

Justice Malaba was unreachable when called for a comment yesterday.

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