it never rains but pours

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

Embattled Mbombela municipal manager, Jacob Dladla, lost his appeal to have his suspension ruled unlawful - with costs which amount to R400000.

The Johannesburg labour court on Wednesday struck his case off the roll for the second time in two weeks.

The court said the case had no merit.

The presiding judge ordered him to pay costs on a party and party scale as well as the cost of two counsels.

Dladla was first put on compulsory leave when the municipality instituted an investigation of misconduct against him.

But Dladla, who described the move as motivated by ulterior motives, went to court alleging an unfair labour practice.

The verdict on the case is yet to be announced.

It was while waiting for this verdict that the municipality converted his forced leave to a three-month suspension.

He went to court - again, claiming that his employment contract states that the municipality may suspend him if it is alleged that he had been charged with serious misconduct, and also if the municipality, in its sole and absolute discretion, believed his presence may jeopardise the investigation.

Dladla apparently felt this was not the case.

He also said the investigation, which resulted in him being suspended, relied on an outside firm of attorneys. He alleged that this was unlawful.

Dladla pointed out that the firm was appointed without proper procedure being followed to conduct an "illegal" investigation against him.

"When the investigation was conducted, nobody contacted me or informed me of the investigation and the basis of the investigation," he said.

He said when an interim investigation report was released, he only learnt about it in the media.

He said his attorney wrote to the attorneys involved, Ngobe-Nkosi, who acted as both investigator and instructing attorneys for the council.

He claimed that the tabling of an interim report before council discussion should not take place because he had not seen the report nor had he been given a chance to comment.

"Ngobe-Nkosi confirmed in the letter that the discussion of the report by council was for information purposes only and that a final report was still to be prepared," Dladla said.

It is alleged that Dladla, who was appointed to his R820000-a-year post in 2006, failed to submit a signed performance agreement and investigators doubted that such agreement existed.

They could also not find trace of proof of the council taking a resolution confirming that the probationary period was satisfactorily finalised.

The council had earlier resolved that Dladla be placed on leave until January 31.