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Probe into HOD's false travel claims

NEHAWU has called for the suspension of head of department Timothy Seroka, pending disciplinary processes against him.
NEHAWU has called for the suspension of head of department Timothy Seroka, pending disciplinary processes against him.
Image: 123RF/pixelbliss

A Limpopo head of department who is accused of submitting fraudulent travel claims has blamed his personal assistant for mistakenly confusing his vehicles when claiming payment.

Timothy Seroka, head of the public works department, stands accused of claiming R11,405.88 for several trips he took in June.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has accused Seroka of fraud by submitting claims that purported he had been driving a Mercedez- Benz ML 350, while he apparently used a VW Polo for the travels.

The union has called for Seroka's suspension pending disciplinary processes against him.

Seroka refused to comment yesterday, saying disciplinary proceeding was under way.

But in a letter he wrote to the chief financial officer of the department after receiving payment, Seroka said he had noticed that there was an error in his claims for official kilometres for the month of June.

"My PA Ms Rogers mistakenly did not split the various vehicles that I have used in June as per my instruction," he said.

"The unfortunate part was that I also didn't notice that error when signing hence this withdrawal.

"I therefore hereby request that this claim be withdrawn so that it can be corrected and the money to the amount of R11,405.88 that has been paid to me be deducted from my salary or my next claim," Seroka said.

"I take the full responsibility of this error without passing it to my PA as I should have checked before signing the claim."

Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha's spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said Seroka's disciplinary hearing was under way.

An official from the department told Sowetan Seroka was in fact driving a VW Polo during the said travels.

Some of the trips were to Gauteng and to the Limpopo executive committee lekogtla.

Nehawu provincial secretary Jacob Adams said they have been calling for Seroka to be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing into the allegations of fraud levelled against him.

"Seroka is a senior accounting officer in the department and hence we call for this process to be transparent and fair," Adams said.

"The person who is presiding over the hearing is three times junior to Seroka, and we feel the process will not be fair," he said.

"Seroka was supposed to be suspended by the premier Stan Mathabatha since the matter was picked up last year but none of it happened."

Mathiva said the suspension of the HOD was determined by the chairperson of the committee.

"Let's allow the process to take place within the confines of the law. At the moment we don't know why he was not suspended," he said.

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