Fired officials challenge water utility

THREE senior officials fired by the third largest water utility in the country are dragging the state-owned enterprise to court over their "unfair dismissal".

Silas Mbedzi, Lindi Dhlamini and Futhi Sibiya were all employed in top jobs at Mhlathuze Water in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, before the organisation fired them.

Mbedzi, a former MW chief executive, was dismissed amid calls of irregularities in performing his duties. The troubles besetting the water utility first appeared in March this year when Mbedzi filed papers in the Johannesburg high court opposing then water affairs minister Bulelwa Sonjica's appointment of the organisation's new board.

It is alleged that the dissolving of the old MW board was done because Mbedzi issued a report to Sonjica which contained "false information".

Dhlamini was the supply chain manager at MW. She was fired after she failed to make presentations to the organisation on why she should not be dismissed following the "contravention of supply chain policy".

She was first suspended seven months ago when allegations that she had contravened the supply chain policy emerged.

Dhlamini was hauled before a disciplinary hearing by MW but was vindicated of nine charges that included defrauding the tender committee and unethical behaviour.

Chairperson of the disciplinary committee appointed by MW, Advocate Willem Mokhari, ordered that Dhlamini be reinstated. MW's management, however, rejected the ruling and last week dismissed her.

In Dhlamini's dismissal letter, MW chief executive Victor Botes said he disagreed with Mokhari's ruling.

"The supply chain policy is peremptory and cannot simply be disregarded willy-nilly when a short-term contract is awarded," he said.

Botes said Mokhari ignored the evidence that Dhlamini dishonestly represented information to MW's tender committee.

Dhlamini is now joining her former colleagues Sibiya and Mbedzi as they take their battle to court.

Her case will be heard on November 11. Dhlamini, who is the current chairperson of the Black Management Forum, yesterday claimed she was innocent.

Sibiya took his matter to the labour court after he did not find joy at the CCMA. Last week, he told Sowetan that he was not fairly treated by MW.

"The matter will now be heard in court," Sibiya said.

MW human resources manager Mandla Myeni said Sibiya went to the CCMA after he was dismissed but later claimed that he was being discriminated against.

Attempts to get clarity on the matter from Sibiya were fruitless.

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