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Pretoria - Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve acting manager Debbie Joubert has been suspended for allegedly running a private resort and renting out shacks on government property without authorisation.
The suspension pending a forensic investigation was confirmed by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and her husband Gideon Joubert to the Pretoria News on Wednesday afternoon.
Ramona Baijnath, spokesman for the department, said Joubert was suspended following a forensic investigation into various activities at the nature reserve early this year. The initial investigation found the employee in question was suspected of engaging in various acts of misconduct, Baijnath said.
Joubert said his wife had “nothing to say about the matter”. He said the suspension was unlawful and would be legally challenged.
Non-profit organisation Corruption Watch said its investigation found Joubert to have used government land to run a private resort without authorisation.
Spokesman Bigboy Maubane said the investigation followed an anonymous tip-off sent to Corruption Watch on the dealings of the acting manager.
“The department informed Corruption Watch that it had conducted its own forensic investigation into the matter and had suspended Joubert,” it said.
Maubane said that while the organisation did not have a copy of the record of Joubert’s suspension, they had seen it.
She has been suspended on full pay pending the finalisation of a forensic investigation, Maubane said.
Joubert is accused of competing directly with the department by allegedly channelling visitors to Angling Grounds resort, owned by her husband.
Corruption Watch said Joubert has denied involvement in running what she claimed was her husband’s private resort.
However, a Corruption Watch investigation found her details appeared on Angling Grounds salary payslips to the workers.
Her cellphone number appears on the private company’s advertising board, the organisation said.
Corruption Watch claimed Angling Grounds was not registered as a business entity with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.
The couple also appear to deduct money from the workers’ salaries for the Unemployment Insurance Fund and accommodation, Corruption Watch said. It stated these contributions were not paid to the Department of Labour.
Workers at the property were carrying on as normal on Wednesday.
Some were clearing leaves and other unwanted items from the dam.
There were a few shacks along the fence, outside the boom that is an entry point to the resort.
The workers said some had been employed there for a decade and lived in the shacks, paying monthly accommodation rent of R150.