Technician pockets R40k monthly 'staying at home'

Municipality probing who is signing timesheets for AWOL worker

Noxolo Sibiya Journalist
The auditor-general in 2022 ranked Emfuleni local municipality in the Vaal as one of eight municipalities with poor performance.
The auditor-general in 2022 ranked Emfuleni local municipality in the Vaal as one of eight municipalities with poor performance.
Image: Antonio Muchave

The Emfuleni municipality has been paying a salary of about R40,000 a month to a senior engineering technician who had gone awol from work for four years. 

This was revealed by cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs MEC Mzi Khumalo in a written reply to DA MPL Kingsol Chabalala's questions tabled in the legislature in May. 

Silence Munwai has been sitting at home following a protection order that was obtained against him by his superior and manager for the municipality’s parks and cemeteries, Sithembile Ngobeni.

Emfuleni Local Municipality senior engineering technician Silence Munwai.
Emfuleni Local Municipality senior engineering technician Silence Munwai.
Image: Instagram

Khumalo said Ngobeni filed for a protection order against Munwai in 2016 after he allegedly threatened to shoot and kill her during a dispute about him [Munwai] always being absent from work.  

Following the dispute, Munwai was then moved to the sports department, but according to the municipality, he later rescinded the decision and decided to stay at home in 2019. 

Khumalo said the municipality has been paying the employee his annual salary of R597,012 ever since. 

Seven years after the protection order was obtained, the municipality has yet to resolve the dispute with Ngobeni still serving as manager for parks and cemeteries while no one knows where Munwai is. 

Municipality spokesperson Makhosonke Sangweni said the municipality did not authorise for Munwai to stay at home and were looking into who was signing timesheets on his behalf at the office. 

“Mr Munwai has been submitting his attendance registers as a person who has been reporting to work, however, the municipality is yet to verify as to who was signing his timesheets including the recent one for the month of May. We are currently investigating all other facts to try and bring this matter to its conclusion.” 

He said the municipality had taken steps to resolve the dispute with immediate effect, but hit a snag when executive director who was dealing with the case left the municipality without resolving the matter. 

The cash-strapped municipality, which is in errears of millions of rand with Eskom and has been struggling to pay some of its service providers, had over recent months also struggled to pay staff salaries after its bank account was attached as a move to settle its debt with Eskom. 

Issues of service delivery have also plagued the municipality, with it being ranked one of eight municipalities with poor performance by the Auditor-General in 2022.

Chabalala said the unresolved dispute is a massive cost to taxpayers.  “... that must not be allowed to continue. This dispute between the two employees is costing Emfuleni residents who continue to suffer a collapse in service delivery,” he said. 

“The fact that this dispute has lasted for years indicates that the Emfuleni human resources department has failed to resolve it. The DA demands that MEC Khumalo urgently intervene and resolve this dispute to curb any further loss of income by Emfuleni.”

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