PPE probe leads to fired public servant's pension being frozen

13 February 2021 - 11:32
By Mpumzi Zuzile
The Special Tribunal has successfully interdicted and restrained the Government Employees Pension Fund from releasing the pension fund of the former CFO. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ LE MOAL OLIVIER The Special Tribunal has successfully interdicted and restrained the Government Employees Pension Fund from releasing the pension fund of the former CFO. Stock photo.

The Special Tribunal has frozen the pension fund of the former CFO of the Department of Agriculture, land reform and rural development, Jacob Hlatshwayo, pending civil proceedings against him.

Early in December, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) successfully petitioned the Special Tribunal to interdict the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) from paying benefits to Hlatshwayo.

In a virtual hearing on Friday, Judge Lebogang Modiba granted an order interdicting the GEPF from paying Hlatshwayo's pension benefits.

Modiba extended the rule nisi granted on December 17 2020 to March 8 for Hlatshwayo to show why the interim order should not be made final.

Hlatshwayo was also ordered to pay the legal costs of opposing the extension application. This is after he raised technical issues with the extension of the rule nisi.

Hlatshwayo is allegedly implicated in procurement misconduct related to Covid-19. The SIU told the tribunal it intends instituting civil proceedings against Hlatshwayo to recover the losses incurred by the state as a result of his alleged misconduct.

The order follows the SIU investigation into the department’s alleged irregular awarding of a personal protective equipment (PPE) contract.

During the investigation, the SIU identified certain officials as involved in the alleged irregularities, one being the former CFO.

“Hlatshwayo was dismissed on October 12 2020 in an unrelated matter. The SIU felt it prudent to secure the pension of the former CFO in order to finalise the investigation,” SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said.

SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi said: “The SIU will pursue civil litigation against any official if there is an indication that they have caused damage to the public money.”

Agriculture department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said Hlatshwayo was dismissed for his role in the irregular appointment of a company to provide transportation, processing, warehousing and marketing services for abalone and shark fins.

He was also dismissed for his role in alleged procurement irregularities relating to the appointment of a company to provide security facilities at Hout Bay and Kalk Bay harbours in Cape Town.

Hlatshwayo refused to comment, referring SowetanLIVE sister publication TimesLIVE to his lawyers, whose details he refused to provide.

TimesLIVE