Biggest Fashion Sale Of The Year! Shop 12 000 Up To 70% OFF!
Johannesburg - National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) boss Steven Ngubeni claims he received death threats from people wanting to get rid of him.
Ngubeni disclosed this to The Star on Monday after the Johannesburg Labour Court ruled against the NYDA board and reinstated him to his position as the agency’s chief executive.
“There was prejudice against me from day one of my suspension. I believe the leadership of the NYDA is not comfortable working with me. I don’t know for what reason. If so, they must let me know so I can leave,” he said.
Ngubeni scored a significant victory on Monday when the court ruled that his dismissal was unlawful as it was in breach of his contract of employment.
The judgment was a setback for the NYDA, which had terminated Ngubeni’s contract earlier this month - almost exactly a year before the contract is due to end on October 31 next year.
Ngubeni’s dismissal was the culmination of a series of wrangles between him and the agency’s board dating back to his suspension in July.
He was initially suspended pending the outcome of an independent disciplinary inquiry into allegations of financial misconduct against him.
He faces seven charges related to allegations that he signed off three projects valued at more than R30 million without the board’s approval. The loans were later converted to grants.
On Monday, Judge Andre van Niekerk ruled that the NYDA had breached an employment clause requiring that Ngubeni be afforded a fair disciplinary procedure prior to terminating his contract.
Judge Van Niekerk had harsh words for the NYDA, saying the decision to fire Ngubeni was so flawed, it “could have made any criminal court proud”.
“One can appreciate the board’s frustration (because) the inquiry had been running on a stop-start basis for some two months… But this did not entitle the board to abandon the (disciplinary) process, without notice (and) assume the proverbial role of judge, jury and executor. That is manifestly not a fair disciplinary procedure.”
Judge Van Niekerk said Ngubeni would continue to “suffer irreparable harm” if his application to overturn his dismissal was not granted.
“I fail to see how Ngubeni’s reinstatement should pose any particular hardship to the NYDA… He stands to suffer financially, and the high public profile of this matter has ensured that Ngubeni has been branded as corrupt and dishonest, with little prospect of alternative employment.”
Ngubeni defended his decision to sign off the projects, saying it was for the “benefit of ordinary persons in South Africa”.
He added, however, that working with the same board that had instituted disciplinary proceedings against him would be difficult.
“I went back to the office (after the court’s ruling) and the police came and told me I was trespassing. So I am not anticipating it will be easy.”
NYDA spokesman Siyabonga Magadla said the board would study the court’s findings before taking a decision on whether to appeal.
The Auditor-General recently found that the NYDA had irregularly spent public funds and paid its former chairman Andile Lungisa thousands of rand in unspecified “management fees” several months after his contract had expired.
Opposition parties have been unanimous in calling for Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to probe the NYDA, especially following allegations that the agency spent R106m during the World Festival of Youth and Students in 2011.