Afrique du Sud: Former Absa administrator challenges dismissal in court

Fired on November 24, 2021 from the boards of directors of Absa Group and Absa Bank with immediate effect, Sipho Pityana is turning to the courts to “obtain justice”. The ex-administrator on Wednesday (December 22) filed a 126-page petition in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, claiming he was unlawfully dismissed while in “the legitimate exercise of [his] rights.”

Sipho Pityana claims, in fact, “compensation for this violation of the law on companies”. “It is clear from the events that led to my dismissal that I am in fact a victim for having legitimately exercised my rights,” he said in a statement.

“I firmly believe that Absa removed me from the board of directors as a punishment for seeking a declaratory order against the Prudential Authority (PA) of the South African Reserve Bank (the central bank) for his interference in my appointment as chairman of the board of directors of Absa ”, continues the former chairman of the bank’s remuneration committee.

Conflict of interest

The man who was to chair the board of directors of Absa Bank accused the central bank of blocking his appointment. He said, local media report, that Absa’s board gave him 48 hours’ notice to resign as a director on November 2, adding that his lawsuit against the Prudential Authority had resulted in a misalignment of interests between his own and those of the bank.

On the announcement of his dismissal, the council had indicated that the decision follows a meeting held on November 23, the day before, during which Sipho Pityana had the opportunity to comment on the allegations that he had neglected or failed in the performance of his duties as a director of the boards and failed to conduct himself in a manner which preserved the interests of Absa.

Sexual harassment

“After careful consideration of the question and Mr. Pityana’s responses to the allegations, Counsel came to the conclusion that, among other things, Mr. Pityana was pursuing his own personal interests to the detriment of Absa and thereby creating a material conflict and lasting between his interests and those of Absa. While the Boards respect Mr. Pityana’s individual right to administrative fairness, unfortunately in this case the Boards concluded that the pursuit of his personal interest at the expense of the group’s interest created a lasting and intractable conflict. Absa has a duty to its stakeholders to put the interests of the group above individual interests, “the bank said.

“At the heart of Pityana’s legal feuds with Absa are issues surrounding his December 2020 resignation as president of AngloGold Ashanti. It later emerged that he had been the subject of allegations of sexual harassment while leading the board of directors of the gold producer, “local media reported.

No date has yet been set for the hearing.

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