A major blow for secrecy
Attempts by companies linked to former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to keep their ownership details under wraps was dealt a serious blow in the North Gauteng High Court this week.
Judge Sulet Potterill ruled that the securities registers of On-Point Engineers, SGL Engineering and Gwama Properties should be made public. This will, for the first time, reveal what exactly Malema’s stakes are in these entities, which make millions of rands from Limpopo provincial government tenders and own properties linked to him.
Potterill didn’t mince her words: the refusal by these companies to make public their ownership records was a criminal offence.
“It is not only opportunistic, but in contempt of a court order for the respondents (the companies) not to show cause why the applicants (City Press) would not be entitled to inspect and make copies of the security registers of the respondents,” the judge ruled.
Potterill’s judgment is an important victory for press freedom as it prohibits private companies from hiding the identities of
their shareholders behind legal jargon.
Unless her ruling is overturned on appeal (the companies have indicated they will challenge the judgment), the public will now have the right to inspect securities registers of private companies in terms of the 2008 Companies Act.
This is also a crucial development in the ongoing unravelling of the Limpopo Mafia’s stronghold on the provincial fiscus.