JOHANNESBURG – Peter Moyo, the axed Old Mutual chief executive, planned to report for duty today following Friday’s court ruling in his favour, despite the company saying he would not do so.
Judge Brian Mashile of the South Gauteng High Court on Friday dismissed the company’s application for a declaratory order seeking to prevent Moyo from returning to work.
Mashile also granted Old Mutual leave to appeal against the July 30 judgment in which he ordered that Moyo be temporarily reinstated.
Friday’s ruling is Moyo’s second legal victory amid the bruising battle against South Africa’s oldest insurer to get his job back. On July 30, Mashile ruled that Moyo must be reinstated after finding that the insurer’s decision to suspend and subsequently dismiss Moyo had been unlawful.
In his judgment on Friday, Mashile said that reinstatement had become common in South Africa.
“As has been shown, courts have ordered reinstatement in situations where one would have thought impossible The attitudes and eagerness of parties to restore a relationship count, inestimably,” Mashile said.
Moyo was suspended in May amid a conflict of interest after allegedly pocketing R30 million in dividend payments linked to NMT Capital, the investment company he co-founded.
He was sacked a month later after the board cited a material breakdown of trust and confidence in him.
Moyo was axed again last month, wHen the company gave him a further notice of termination in an open letter to shareholders.
In the open letter, the insurer said it was clearly in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders that the employment relationship with Moyo should come to an end.
On Friday, Moyo sought the court’s permission to introduce further evidence that the insurer allegedly acted in contempt of court, citing that last month’s further notice of termination of employment constituted a further act in contempt of court.
Old Mutual said on Friday that Moyo had not challenged the contractual validity of the further notice of termination given on August 21.
“He will not be returning to work in the interim,” said the company in a statement, adding it would communicate further after it had considered the court’s further judgment in the latest application.
Moyo, 56, said he would return to work at 8am today. “I will meet you at Old Mutual,” Moyo told journalists on the sidelines of the case.
He was previously barred and physically prevented from entering his office following the July court ruling.
Advocate Gilbert Marcus, representing the Old Mutual board, earlier on Friday told the court that the reopening of the contempt of court claim would fail as the second letter of termination was entirely lawful.
“The evidence now sought to be introduced concerning the second notice of termination is not relevant to issues that arose in the original contempt of court application,” said Marcus. The matter has been reserved for two weeks.
The company said earlier this month that the ongoing legal spat with Moyo would not have a significant adverse effect on its financial position. However, it is estimated that R20 billion had been wiped off the company’s value since Moyo’s suspension in May.