Sunday, December 4, 2011

Unpaid Zimbali contractor kills himself

Unpaid Zimbali contractor kills himself
December 3 2011 at 01:49pm
By Lyse Comins

A Durban contractor, who worked on the luxurious R600 million Fairmont Zimbali Hotel and Resort, committed suicide last week after allegedly battling to get payment from Dubai-based IFA Hotels and Resorts Limited for work he had done on the development.

Gavin Marshall, 53, owner of Master Sundecks, committed suicide last Wednesday afternoon on a Durban beach after a more than two year battle to get his last payments for a R2 million wooden decking contract he had completed.

Marshall said in an interview with The Mercury in July that claims by IFA president Wessel Witthuhn that his work was defective held no water.

“He (Witthuhn) is having weddings and high-profile parties there (at Zimbali), and is entertaining people on my decks. Whenever I have tried to go there to see these defects, there are people swimming in the pool and having photographs taken on my deck, so how can they be defective?

“He would also need to have indemnity for those people’s safety and he wouldn’t be able to (get indemnity) if the work was defective.

Marshall’s widow, Sharene Wright, last night said she could not comment as she was in mourning. The circumstances surrounding the exact manner of Marshall’s death are not clear at this stage.

Meanwhile, a group of about 40 surfers will paddle out at North Pier at 9am tomorrow morning in remembrance of Marshall, a keen surfer.

The tragedy unfolded in the midst of a complex and bitter legal battle between one of the main contractors, Liviero and Sons, and IFA. Liviero and Sons won a provisional judgment against IFA for R18 million in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in August 2009.

This was after Liviero cancelled the contract for alleged non-payment. Several contractors, including Master Sundecks, Isidingo Plumbers and RVV Tiling then agreed to work directly for IFA.

However, because IFA filed a counterclaim seeking R95 million from Liviero and Sons, which the latter has opposed, the R18 million it would have used to pay a string of about 13 sub-contractors, including Marshall, must be kept as security.

Snag lists

Witthuhn said earlier there were “snag lists” and contractors had not completed the jobs. However, five of the contractors who spoke to The Independent on Saturday said the work had been completed, but in some cases the professionals who were supposed to sign the work off had also not been paid.

Marshall claimed that Liviero owed him R900 000, IFA R250 000 and Stefcon, the other main contractor on the job, an undisclosed sum. The Independent on Saturday has established that the sum owed by Liviero was around R600 000.

Liviero director Andre du Plessis said he was “shocked” to hear of Marshall’s death and alleged that IFA owed contractors a total of R45 million for work completed, in addition to the R18 million.

However, IFA alleged yesterday that Liviero and the contractors had been paid in full and that IFA was now seeking damages against Liviero in excess of R95 million.

“The case against Liviero is in the process of being set down and they are awaiting a court date. Liviero has been paid in full for all amounts owing by IFA in terms of the main contract for work completed up to the termination date… ” IFA said.

“In addition, IFA has paid directly to sub-contractors an amount in excess of R15 million, which they had already paid to Liviero and which had not been paid by Liviero to the sub-contractors. The sub-contractors have agreed to repay this R15 million to IFA once they have been paid by Liviero. IFA has not received any such repayments from sub-contractors,” IFA said.

The company declined to comment on its dealings with Gavin Marshall, saying it was not privy to his personal circumstances. “The loss of any life is a tragedy under any circumstances,” IFA said.

Robert Schultz, a director of Contour Deck, which took over the contract from Marshall, said he was owed R112 000.

“We gave him (Witthuhn) a discount of R17 000 on the R800 000 work that we did in lieu of payment in 30 days. They took the discount and still did not pay us… ” Schultz said.

Lesley Sydney of Isidingo Plumbers said he was waiting for payment of R2.5 million from IFA and R1.1 million from Liviero. “When everything came to a standstill they asked us to come and do the work directly with them to complete the hotel in time for the World Cup. The CEO of IFA went back on his word,” Sydney said.

“The hotel was completed before the World Cup and they are generating an income… ” Sydney said.

RVV Tiling director Angelo D’Agnolo, who is owed an undisclosed sum, said: “It is one of the worst contracts we have been involved in.” - Independent on Saturday


  1. Reminds us of the Sharemax affair!!

    Soon a few lawyers will be taking their own lives..........

  2. THis is shocking and is testament to very poor management