Emfuleni rocked by fresh administrative blunders

Corruption charges against two employees to be withdrawn as witness disappears

09 October 2023 - 07:03
By Noxolo Sibiya
Emfuleni Local Municipality in the Vaal.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE Emfuleni Local Municipality in the Vaal.

Just three months after an Emfuleni councillor was exposed for being on the indigent list and two other employees earning a salary while sitting at home, another administrative blunder has rocked the municipality.

It has emerged that two other employees have been on suspension with pay for four years since November 2019.

But so many years after the disciplinary hearing was initiated, the municipality now says the matter is in the process of being withdrawn, revealing that a key witness in the case “pulled out” of the case on October 20 2021.

Mosidi Machobane, a clerk earns a monthly salary of R28,496 before deductions while Montsheng Ramafikeng an accountant gets R59,758.

Machobane was even given a salary increase in 2022.

Both employees who are accused of corruption, breaching the code of conduct and gross dishonesty did not respond to Sowetan’s requests for say since last week.

They are accused of asking an elderly woman who had come to the municipality to say a rebate for a bribe.

A third employee who was central to the case retired before the case could be finalised.

Municipal spokesperson Makhosonke Sangweni said the investigating officer has been trying to get the key witness to attend the hearings but was unsuccessful.

“The above led to the initiator deciding to withdraw from the proceedings. The municipality is processing withdrawals of the matter and [to] lift the suspensions,” said Sangweni, adding that municipal manager April Ntuli would have to give approval.

He said the municipality was governed by regulations which states that suspension shall be with full pay.

In June, Sowetan reported how ANC ward councillor Andries Lekeletsane unduly benefited from not paying for municipal services for seven years.  

Lekeletsane started working as the ward councillor for ward 39 in Evaton, south of Joburg, in 2016.

Lekeletsane’s account statement showed that he had been receiving an indigent subsidy for water services and waste collection. The subsidy is meant for poor families whose monthly income is below R3,500. 

Lekeletsane who earns about R40,000 a month last week said he had been removed from the indigent list and a new account was created for him.

“The matter was sorted out with the revenue department as well as the speaker’s [Sibongile Soxuza] office. I started paying for rates and taxes in September and my account does not include previous months. They used my stand number to open a new account for me and I will now be paying my rates, as I wished.”

Sangweni said he was still waiting for feedback from Soxuza’s office.

In July, Sowetan uncovered how a senior engineer technician Silence Munwai had been getting a monthly salary of R40,000 for four years despite not reporting for duty.

Munwai said he had since resigned.

Sangweni confirmed this, saying Munwai resigned shortly after Sowetan published the story.

In June 2021, the employee representative wrote a memo which Sowetan has seen where he highlights that the municipality had “failed and denied the said employees an opportunity to a fair, prompt, consistent and progressive hearing”.

It further stated that the municipality had failed to acknowledge and respond to a letter sent on November 27 2020.

Another memorandum dated July 14 2022 and addressed to Ntuli, Machobane and Ramafikeng’s representative expresses concerns about the delay, labelling them unreasonable.

“The general rule is that a disciplinary hearing must be held within a reasonable time from the date on which the alleged misconduct occurred or from the date from which the employer first became aware of it.

“The idea of the principle justice delayed is justice denied is that an unreasonable delay can cause serious prejudice for the employee concerned. It could lead to the conclusion that the employer has abandoned its right to take disciplinary action against the employee,” reads the memo in part.