Dudu Myeni court no-show should not be tolerated
Dudu Myeni failed to be present in the case to declare her a delinquent director for the second day in a row.
The case arises from an application filed by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and the SAA Pilots’ Association in March 2017 to declare Myeni a delinquent director, as a result of her conduct while she chaired the SAA board from December 2012 to October 2017.
On Monday 7 October 2019, the first day the case, Myeni sent a message to the Pretoria High Court through OUTA’s lawyers, indicating that she couldn’t afford to get from her home in Richards Bay to the court. The judge granted Myeni one day’s grace and rolled the case to Tuesday.
Tuesday’s hearing ended with Judge Ronel Tolmay allowing Myeni one day to find a lawyer and to file a formal application for the postponement she wants, which must be done by close of business on Wednesday. The court adjourned until 10am on Thursday, when this application is expected to be heard.
OUTA and SAAPA intend to oppose any application for postponement and will be asking for a costs order against Myeni if the matter is further delayed.
Tuesday’s hearing started with confusion when her previous attorney of record, Daniel Mantsha, appeared to “represent” Myeni – who was not present herself in order to start proceedings – and told the court he wasn’t officially representing her but was asking for a postponement on her behalf.
Judge Tolmay halted proceedings briefly so Mantsha could phone Myeni and decide whether he was representing her or not, which OUTA and SAAPA did not object to.
“Mr Mantsha must either get instructions so that we can oppose his application for a postponement, or leave the building,” said Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s Chief Legal Officer, during the break.
After the break, Mantsha told the court that Myeni had found an advocate to act on a pro bono basis, who would be available to appear on Thursday to make a formal application for a postponement.
When questioned by Judge Tolmay as to why this hadn’t been done timeously, Mantsha said that Myeni had been trying to arrange the resources for the case.
OUTA’s legal team informed the court that OUTA is a publicly funded NGO which is taking this action out of concern over the demise of state-owned enterprises such as SAA. The court dates were allocated in February 2018 and Myeni has been through two sets of lawyers without responding to correspondence.
Mantsha told the court that Myeni was waiting for SAA’s directors’ insurance to agree to pay for her defence. OUTA replied saying this application was already rejected by the insurer, however, Mantsha said that was an application in connection with state capture allegations and that the application for this case was submitted only on 4 October 2019 and a response is still awaited.
OUTA’s lawyers said that while Mantsha was still Myeni’s attorney of record, he had written to OUTA in September, indicating that Myeni’s application to SAA’s insurers had been submitted and a response was awaited.
OUTA has requested an explanation from Myeni to back up her claim that she can’t afford to appear in court or to arrange a lawyer, pointing out that Myeni is listed as being an active director in a number of companies.
Comment from Advocate Stefanie Fick is here.
An outline of the case against Dudu Myeni is here.