SA Weather Service CEO suspended - reasons kept 'really‚ really tight'

Jerry Lengoasa
Jerry Lengoasa
Image: WeatherSA

South African Weather Service (SAWS) chief executive Jerry Lengoasa has been suspended.

This was revealed last week in Parliament when the SAWS presented their annual report to the parliamentary portfolio committee on environmental affairs.

SAWS board chairperson Nana Magomola said on Wednesday that Lengoasa was suspended on September 14.

“Jerry [Lengoasa] has been put on precautionary suspension by the [acting environmental affairs] minister [Derek Hanekom]‚” said Magomola.

SAWS infrastructure and information services head Mnikeli Ndabambi has been appointed as the acting chief executive.

SAWS audit and risk committee chairperson Dr Phillip Dexter called it an “unfortunate situation”.

“You are well aware that some of the issues are to do with‚ one‚ the lease at the new building where SAWS moved to‚ and one or two issues have been reported to the audit committee‚” Dexter said.

“In the light of the seriousness of the matter‚ there was a discussion with the [environmental affairs] department and a decision was taken to place the CEO [Lengoasa] on suspension.”

Magomola said: “Even my executives who are here don’t know what the allegations are. We did that deliberately‚ because it’s an allegation to go all over the place to a point where it will impact on his person and his integrity‚ so we are keeping it really‚ really tight.”

The annual report does not indicate the reasons for the dismissal‚ and the reasons were also not discussed in the committee.

Portfolio committee chairperson Philly Mapulane said the leadership problems at the SAWS were “really frustrating”‚ and added that he was “extremely worried”.

“We have not concluded the issue of the former CEO‚ who was also prematurely terminated by the board. It’s possible that you can also end up firing him [Lengoasa] as well. Then you are going to get a third person as well‚ then you’re going to put that third person on precautionary suspension and then you’re going to fire that person as well. What’s going on there [at the SAWS]?”

In July this year‚ former environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa threatened to sue the environmental affairs portfolio committee after it decided the SAWS board was personally liable for the R2m paid to former SAWS chief executive Linda Makuleni to vacate her office before her contract ended.

The weather service fired Makuleni in 2016‚ five months before her 10-year contract expired. After the committee took up the matter with the board‚ it resolved in October last year to hold board members personally liable for “the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R2m…incurred as a result of its ill-advised decision” to prematurely terminate Makuleni’s contract.

Lengoasa was appointed in May last year.

Mapulane lambasted the SAWS for their poor communication on the Lengoasa’s suspension.

“We are just spectators in this theatre of drama. We are not taken on board‚ nothing‚ not even a letter to communicate this is the situation happening there.”

Environmental affairs spokesperson Albi Modise did not respond to several media inquiries.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.