Durban - The eThekwini lawyer who prosecuted whistleblower Pragasen Govender during his disciplinary hearings at the municipality has denied there was a conspiracy to get rid of him.
Vuyokazi Ngwenya also disputed a transcript of a secretly recorded meeting with Govender - in which she says the disciplinary hearing case against him was “shaky” - when she took the stand in the Durban Labour Court on Thursday.
Ngwenya, who until earlier this month worked at the eThekwini municipality’s legal department, said the city had good grounds to dismiss Govender in June 2010, as he had been accused of gross misconduct and insubordination.
Govender claims he was fired in 2010 after he reported irregularities and corruption within the IT department in 2008 and 2009.
Among the irregularities, some of which were dealt with in the Manase report on fraud and corruption, was a duplicate payment of R2.6m made to Dimension Data.
Govender wants to be reinstated and paid the equivalent of his annual pay of about R400 000, for two years.
Ngwenya said she had no knowledge of Govender reporting irregularities within his department.
She said that they would often meet after the disciplinary proceedings for “off the record” discussions, at which she would give him advice.
During some of these meetings, Govender would tell her that he had information, but when she asked him to show her, he would not.
She said Govender had told her he did not trust the eThekwini’s ombudsman, and she suggested other options.
“I told him to go the Auditor-General, Cogta (co-operative governance and traditional affairs) or the public protector, because he didn’t want to produce even a single sheet of evidence to me,” she said.
Going through the transcripts in which she allegedly told Govender that the disciplinary hearing case against him was “shaky”, Haasbroek put it to her that it cast aspersions against her as a professional.
“I disagree with you,” she snapped back.
Asked if there was a possibility that she may have been misled by Jacqui Subban, the former head of the eThekwini Municipality’s geographic information and policy unit, who led the charges against Govender, Ngwenya said it was not possible.
She said she had herself interviewed many of the witnesses brought in to testify against Govender.
Haasbroek asked Ngwenya if she was surprised that Subban was now facing a disciplinary action by the municipality, based on allegations in the Manase report which had been exposed by Govender in the lead-up to his disciplinary hearing.
“It does not surprise me,” she said.
Haasbroek said: “Your main witness (then), Jacqui Subban, is now the focus of a disciplinary hearing and that does not surprise you?”
“No,” Ngwenya said, explaining that she had given the Manase auditors three files from Govender’s disciplinary hearings.
According to the charge sheet of Subban’s internal disciplinary hearing, she has been charged with “serious misconduct” for contravening supply chain management policies by allowing the duplicate payment to Dimension Data.