Suspension of council boss 'illegal'

THE Mpumalanga department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs is misleading the public by insisting that municipal manager of Thaba Chweu municipality is still under suspension.

Sowetan has established that shortly after Isaac Moshoadiba was suspended on November 26 last year, his lawyers wrote to Thaba Chweu municipal administrator Terrence Mokale pointing out that the suspension was illegal.

Mokale responded eight days after the suspension, saying Moshoadiba was no longer on suspension but on special leave, in essence confirming the lawyers' standpoint that the suspension was illegal.

Attorney Violet Malete, representing Moshoadiba, showed Sowetan a letter from Mokale that suggests that Moshoadiba was no longer on suspension but on special leave.

Despite this confirmation and the fact that the letter about the special leave was written eight days after the suspension, the spokesperson for the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department, Simphiwe Kunene, claimed that Moshoadiba was still on suspension.

"Yes, the municipal manager remains under suspension," Kunene said in an e-mail response to a Sowetan enquiry about the matter.

Malete said that Moshoadiba was taking the Thaba Chweu municipality and its administrator to the Johannesburg labour court to challenge the "special leave" on Thursday this week.

"The suspension was illegal and so is the special leave," Malete said yesterday.

"We pray that our client should be returned to work immediately and unconditionally.

"We shall meet in the labour court on Thursday."

Mokale could not be reached for comment since he was said to be engaged in several meetings in Cape Town.

The whole saga started when the Mashishing community near Lydenburg took to the streets and damaged council property, demanding the removal of the then executive mayor Clara Ndlovu and an investigation into corruption in the municipality.

At some stage members of the Mashishing activist forum stormed the municipality's chambers and disrupted a council meeting forcing armed police to intervene.

This followed the alleged disappearance of R3,2million from the municipality's main account and Sowetan has reliably been informed that just more than R2million was later recovered after Moshoadiba asked the banks to freeze the bogus accounts in which the money had been transferred to.

Ndlovu and the other councillors were later fired from their municipal positions.