Automobile giant BMW’s property has been ordered to be publicly auctioned to recover nearly R55 million owed to former employees.
David Mahlatsi and 1390 other former members of the BMW Pension Fund took the fund and its board of trustees to court to force them to pay monies they say were due to them since 2008. They argued that BMW declared surplus, then worth R28 million, which was due to those members during 1980 and 2003.
Driving the plaintiffs’ case was Thandiwe Moshabane, from Moshabane Attorneys, who said they had tried to negotiate with the parties since 2010.
But the BMW Pension Fund had refused or neglected to pay the former employees, Moshabane said. They faced a number of challenges, including the pension payout principal officer having sent the summons to the Financial Services Board, which later also wanted to make representations in court.
“We asked them not to (make representations), because the matter did not involve them, but they did not want to,” Moshabane said.With limited resources and without any financial help, including from the government, Moshabane said the case was one of her toughest.
Moshabane said the BMW Pension Fund and the board of trustees were summonsed in July 2017 and did not enter an appearance to defend. She then applied for a default judgment, which was granted in the Pretoria High Court.
“They sued because the defendants, despite demand, refused to pay the surplus to them," she said.
"This case was handled by a black female, who worked alone. It is one of the biggest cases I've ever worked on.”
In a warrant of execution handed down last week, the court directed to attach the movable goods of the BMW Pension Fund and the BMW Pension Fund Board of Trustees, and publicly auction them for R54 544 233.
- BMW did not respond by deadline.