The deputy judge president of the South Gauteng High Court has set an accelerated timetable for the case.
Old Mutual said in a statement: “We welcome the decision to expedite the appeal hearing.
“Though keen to put the matter behind the company, the dispute with the former chief executive threatens to upend corporate governance and general principles of company law if left unchallenged.
“Even as the board seeks a speedy resolution consistent with their duties, the directors also have a duty and obligation to defend through the courts the legitimacy of the board and its actions in the best interests of Old Mutual.”
Contempt of court
Moyo and his legal term filed a contempt of court application against the board of Old Mutual for its refusal to re-admit him to the offices of Old Mutual and for the company’s decision to issue a second notice of termination on 21 August 2019.
On 15 October, Moyo filed a replying affidavit introducing a new ground of contempt, in which he claims that Old Mutual and its directors have “embarked on a campaign of insulting judge Mashile personally”.
Old Mutual chairman Trevor Manuel was forced to apologise for his “wholly inappropriate” comments after referring to Mashile as “an individual who happens to wear a robe”.
The firm also said in a statement: “This has created a situation where it is not reasonable for judge Mashile to hear the matter.
“Old Mutual and its directors have therefore been advised to apply for his recusal as the presiding judge in the upcoming contempt of court hearing, which as things stand is due to be heard in early November.
“The decision to proceed with the recusal application was a difficult one.
“The directors emphatically state they mean no disrespect to judge Mashile.
“However, by making judge Mashile the subject of the contempt proceedings, Mr Moyo’s team have created a situation where the judge would have to decide on claims which now directly involve him personally.”
Moyo was first sacked in June 2019, after being suspended by the insurer, over an alleged conflict of interest and breakdown of trust.
At the end of June 2019, judge Mashile ruled that the dismissal was unlawful and that Moyo was to be reinstated on a temporary basis.
Old Mutual, however, banned him from returning to work the day after the court ruling.
Shortly after, the South African insurer issued the second notice of termination and appealed Mashile’s ruling.
Following the managed separation of the group in 2018, Old Mutual South Africa is no longer connected with Quilter or Isle of Man-based Old Mutual International.