Aurora to seal R10 m labat deal

AURORA Empowerment Systems is gearing up to seal a R10million deal while 2000 workers at its Grootvlei East Rand mine are fighting to get two months' wages from the company.

The black economic empowerment investment firm - which is owned by President Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma and Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela - has made an offer for a 45,7percent stake in Labat Africa. Aurora will acquire over 90million Labat shares at 5c per share, or R4,5million.

Mandela, Aurora's managing director, said yesterday that the deal was worth R10million.

Labat Africa, through its subsidiaries, provides traffic control technology and manufactures electronic chips locally. According to I-Net data, Labat has a market capitalisation of R74,9million.

Mandela said the strategy of Aurora was always to conclude a listing that would be used as a vehicle for the company's gold assets.

"This transaction was long in the pipeline and in terms of future funding it would be much easier as foreign investors prefer the transparency and corporate governance attached to a public listed company."

Labat released details of its deal with Aurora to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange yesterday, while members of the National Union of Mineworkers marched at Grootvlei, forcing mine managers to call the police to disperse the crowd.

Managers left the mine's premises in Springs in a huff when more than 500 angry workers pelted their cars with stones.

They also called on management to restore electricity, water and food for workers who live in the mine's hostels. Police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and assaulting protesters, kicking them and hitting them with batons.

NUM chairperson in Grootvlei Fraser Namanyane said five workers received treatment for rubber bullet and assault wounds.

Mandela said the company was attending to the strike at Grootvlei.

"What has transpired is quite unfortunate because we were scheduled for a meeting (yesterday) with the unions to resolve all outstanding matters. We can't explain why the strike is on. It goes against agreements we had previously made."

He said the supply of electricity and water could be traced to the current status of no production on the mine. - Additional reporting by I-Net Bridge