MASERU — Former employees of C-River, a Taiwanese owned textile firm that went bust three years ago, are up in arms against the liquidator of the company whom they accuse of delaying their severance packages.
The 700 workers last Friday appealed to the Master of the High Court, Nos’bongile Vilakazi, to order the liquidator, Advocate Elliot Makhera, to pay them immediately.
The workers, who have been waiting for the severance packages since 2008, said the Master of the High Court must order Makhera to pay them by tomorrow.
They have sought the intervention of the labour and justice ministries.
Officials from the two ministries received the letters last Friday afternoon.
“We requested you on 6/11/2009 to order lawyer N E Makhera to pay us but until now nothing has happened,” reads part of the letter to Vilakazi.
“We would like you to tell us when you will order Makhera to pay us. We ask you to do this because you are lawyer Makhera’s monitor.”
“We instruct that these be executed before seven days pass.” (sic)
It is not clear what the workers plan to do if Makhera fails to pay them.
C-River closed shop in September 2007 when the owner disappeared without paying the workers.
At that time the company was saddled with huge debts and faced serious cash flow problems due to lack of orders from major source markets.
Makhera was appointed liquidator by the High Court in February 2008 with a brief to collect the company’s debts and pay the creditors.
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The biggest creditors were the 700 employees who were owed severance packages.
Makhera has however failed to pay most of the creditors.
Instead his tenure has been rocked by his endless battles with the workers. Three months ago the workers alleged that Makhera had clandestinely sold the company to a Chinese businessman who has since resumed production under the name Blessing Textile Factory.
The workers alleged that Makhera sold the company to En Ming Xie for M500 000 but has kept the money instead of paying them.
Makhera however claims the M500 000 he got from En Ming Xie was for security and not for the purchase of the factory.
He said he demanded the money so that En Ming would not disappear as the previous C-River owners had done.
This paper is in possession of the deed of sale allegedly signed between Makhera and En Ming. The document carries the signatures of the two and witnesses who included trade union officials.
Monaheng Mokaoane and Mots’oari Mokhachane from the Lentsoe la Sechaba Trade Union, which represents most of the former C-River workers, have told the Lesotho Times that they were present when the deal between Makhera and En Ming was sealed and they signed the deed of sale as witnesses.
According to the deed of sale En Ming bought the property on an “as is basis” and excluding any debts of the seller.
According to the agreement, the total selling price was M650 000.
The first payment was supposed to be a M400 000 cheque that was to be paid on the day of the signing of the agreement.
The second instalment was supposed to be paid through a M100 000 cheque three days later on March 13.
The remaining M150 000 was supposed to be paid on May 30 2008.
The agreement was signed on March 10, 2008.
Yet Makhera insists that he never signed such a document.
“I have never signed the deed of sale they are talking about and I only knew about it when they mentioned it in one of the papers,” Makhera said.
“The only thing I know is the memorandum of agreement of sub-lease we concluded, not the so-called deed of sale allegedly signed by me.”
“In fact, I have taken them to court because of that deed of sale of theirs.”
En Ming told the Lesotho Times he was the new owner of the factory.