The chairman of Old Mutual South Africa, Trevor Manuel, has come under fire for a remark he made during a press conference last week regarding the ruling of high court judge Brian Mashile.
Manuel said during the conference: “If you take a board imbued with the responsibility and accountability and you get that overturned by a single individual who happens to wear a robe, I think you have a bit of a difficulty.”
The chair has apologised about his comment.
Manuel said: “My unguarded observation, although withdrawn, has understandably caused disquiet for which I apologise unreservedly, to the honourable judge presiding and to my fellow South Africans.
“It was never my intention to show disrespect to the learned judge or his judgment. I accept that my language was wholly inappropriate to express my disagreement with the decision and sincerely regret the manner in which I did so.
“My respect for the judiciary is unshaken and rooted in our sound legal process where all voices are heard with remedies available to address differences of legal position.
“I support the board of Old Mutual’s efforts to make full use of the appeal process available to Old Mutual to state its case before the full court of the Gauteng local division of the high court.
“I remain fully committed to the integrity of the judiciary, and to the constitutional value of the independence of our judiciary.”
Not backing down
During the press conference, Manuel explained what Old Mutual and its board’s stance on the legal battle against former chief executive Peter Moyo was, saying that the firm is getting ready to appeal the entire high court ruling.
In addition, he denied that there had been a triple conflict of interest on his side, which was part of Moyo’s contestation and case against the insurer and its chair.
But the firm added, in a statement following the press conference, that while it was going to appeal the entire judgement, it was not looking for further legal intervention regarding Moyo’s second letter of termination.
Old Mutual South Africa is not connected with Quilter or Isle of Man-headquartered Old Mutual International, followed the managed separation of the group in 2018.