Judge criticises North West MEC over purge of gambling board
A forensic report into the North West Gambling Board was thrown out on Friday by the high court in Mahikeng.
Board members approached the court on July 30 asking it to review and declare unconstitutional a decision by the provincial finance department to appoint the forensic firm in March 2019 and set aside the findings.
The North West economic development MEC Keneetswe Mosenogi relied on the report's findings about misconduct and irregular expenditure to remove five members from the board.
Judge Samkelo Gura said provincial officials had been unable to explain why supply chain legislation was not followed in appointing Gobodo Forensic and Investigative Accounting to conduct the investigation.
“The decision cannot be allowed to stand ... and falls to be declared unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid,” he said.
Fired board members also succeeded in stopping the MEC appointing their replacements, saying the Gobodo report was factually incorrect and the findings of misconduct erroneous.
“Gobodo relied on outdated and irrelevant policy documents in determining whether the applicants lodged irregular claims,” they said in their court papers.
“Gobodo’s failure to consult with and seek the input of members of the board resulted in the erroneous allegations and considerations of irrelevant and inapplicable documents by Gobodo.”
The court found that various key individuals who could have been interviewed during the investigation were not. Some individuals against whom findings were made were not provided with an opportunity to respond.
Some allegations in the report do not relate to the current events but historical events which occurred during the term of the previous board.
In dismissing the board members, said Gura, Mosenogi acted irrationally because she relied on a flawed report.
The judge criticised the MEC for firing the five when she knew they had approached the court asking it to set aside the report. He described it as “an improper exercise of public power”.