sokhulu gets boot

DISMISSED: Former iGagasi 99.5 FM managing director Pearl Sokhulu. Pic. Unknown
DISMISSED: Former iGagasi 99.5 FM managing director Pearl Sokhulu. Pic. Unknown

KWAZULU-NATAL'S commercial radio station iGagasi 99.5 FM has fired its managing director Pearl Sokhulu.

The dismissal comes after an eight-month long disciplinary inquiry. Sokhulu was suspended in March after allegations of fraud and corruption were levelled against her.

Sowetan has learnt that Sokhulu had inflated costs when the station moved from the Durban city centre to new offices at Gateway Mall in Umhlanga.

It is alleged that Sokhulu initially asked for R8million to be approved to move the station to the new offices. She allegedly later increased the price to R15million but ended up using the amount she had initially asked for.

Sokhulu was also accused of failing to cooperate with other managers and that had allegedly resulted in some staff leaving.

Makhosi Khoza and Thandolwethu "Sexa" Strydom, co-presenters of the afternoon drive-time slot, Zwakala, left the station to join 5 FM and came back after Sokhulu's suspension.

Another allegation that surfaced after Sokhulu's suspension was that she was working for a North West-based radio station and that she had used iGagasi employees to do work for the same station without board approval.

The station's board of directors subsequently appointed an independent dispute resolution company Tokiso to investigate a number of charges of misconduct against her.

Board chairperson Peter-Paul Ngwenya said they had received a comprehensive report from Tokiso and Sokhulu had been found guilty on most of the charges. He said due to the confidentiality and sensitivity of the matter, the board was not in a position to disclose the nature of the charges.

"Given the nature of the charges and extent of the findings, the board has come to the decision to release Sokhulu from her responsibilities as the managing director of iGagasi 99.5 with immediate effect.

"We are satisfied that after a period of more than eight months, this matter has finally been concluded and can now be laid to rest," Ngwenya said.

Sokhulu, however, has vowed to fight to the bitter end and disputed that all parties were satisfied with the conclusion of this matter.

She said it's fraudulent of the board to come up with such a decision.

"It was board process. I am not going to take this lying down. I will take the matter up because their actions are against the evidence presented," she said.

Sokhulu said the board acted the way they did because they were trying to suppress her.

"When the whole thing started, I had a conceptual dispute with the board and had enforced my conceptual right.

"The board knew about the project of moving iGagasi offices in June 2008. All I did was per agreement with the board chairperson, Mr Ngwenya," she said.