Andile Ngcaba seeks R441m from DiData in discrimination lawsuit

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Former Dimension Data chairman Andile Ngcaba.
Former Dimension Data chairman Andile Ngcaba.

Former board chairman of information technology company Dimension Data (DiData) Andile Ngcaba’s multimillion-rand discrimination lawsuit will be heard in court next week as the businessman seeks R441 million in compensation.

The lawsuit, which seeks R170 million in damages for racial discrimination and claims R261.3 million for unpaid bonuses, alleges racial discrimination in violation of the Constitution, as Ngcaba was prejudiced on the grounds of race, resulting in him being paid less than other senior executives.

Ngcaba is also claiming R10 million in damages for racial slurs and insults.

DiData has denied the allegations, saying they are “completely without merit”.

Business Day reported today that Ngcaba first took on DiData in 2017, hauling the company to a labour dispute resolution body after he learnt he was excluded from an incentive scheme that benefited other staff.

His initial bid to address the matter at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) failed. The commission found the delay of 15 months in referring the alleged unfair labour practice to the CCMA was “wanting and not reasonable at all” and that Ngcaba's prospects of success were slim.

The businessman alleged he learnt in May 2016 that executive directors, including his juniors, were benefiting from a long-term incentive scheme, from which he was excluded.

He argued that by being excluded from the scheme, this amounted to institutional racism.

The lawsuit says: “During that period, DiData had been paying remuneration to the senior executives, who are mainly white persons, in a manner which was different to and higher than that of Ngcaba.”

In response, DiData says: “We reject, in the strongest possible terms, the allegations levelled against us. They are completely without merit and Mr Ngcaba’s claims are being legally defended.

“Dimension Data is an ethical and values-led organisation and has at all times acted, and will continue to act, appropriately. We will never tolerate any incident of racism or discrimination of any kind, both in our company and in our society.”

The company says it regrets that its “excellent relationship” with its former executive chairman has ended in a legal dispute.

“Dimension Data remains a committed and active corporate citizen; we will continue to work towards delivering on our part to transform South Africa’s society and economy by creating opportunities for equal and broad-based access for all South Africans.”

Speaking about the case with ITWeb today, Ngcaba denies he oversaw employee salary benefits.

“I was the executive chairman reporting to the Group CEO Mr Brett Dawson, who ultimately reported to the PLC Board, where all remuneration decisions were made.

“This case is all about justice and fairness to expose racial discrimination in South Africa which may affect many other people. In 2016, after the amendment of the Companies Act which compelled companies to publicly declare salaries of executives, I discovered this racial discriminatory remuneration practice and immediately challenged it.”

For DiData, the Ngcaba lawsuit comes on the back of a fresh empowerment transaction. It announced a 15% employee ownership scheme, giving its staff ownership in the company without any personal investment.

It says the purpose of the offer is to further engage DiData employees in the development of its business by allowing them to become shareholders of the firm.

This transaction, together with the sale of its offices, The Campus, lifted its black ownership recognition to 51% under the black empowerment rules.

Dimension Data has had two previous empowerment schemes. The first came into effect in 2004 and vested in 2012, benefitting thousands of employees and broad-based groups and transferring a total of R1.26 billion to its beneficiaries.

This was immediately followed by an employee share option plan, which was concluded in 2017 and has been unwound. Its beneficiaries were paid out at the end of August last year.

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