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Traffic agency spends millions fighting claims

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When Suzannah Patterson heard screams she thought it was from a hijacking, only to find scores of R100 notes fluttering in the wind.

Johannesburg - The Road Traffic Management Corporation has spent R5.2 million on disciplining its staff and defending labour matters brought against it by several employees.

The charges against RTMC employees include insubordination, bribery, driving under the influence of alcohol, gross dishonesty and driving a private vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

One law firm from Limpopo pocketed R3 998 093.68 from the RTMC, while others earned between R20 000 and R253 440. The money was spent disciplining its employees, defending labour matters against it and commissioning forensic investigations between 2010 and 2012.

But RTMC spokesman Ashref Ismail has defended this. He said: “The R5.2 million may be the total costs but most of the money is recoverable from the employees who took the RTMC to court.”

He said the corporation was awarded costs in most of the cases.

Ismail was referring to cases where employees had launched urgent applications at the Labour Court challenging their dismissal. Ismail said some of the money was used to pay for forensic investigations to probe financial mismanagement, procurement irregularities and maladministration in the agency.

“Clearly, spending R5m in uprooting corruption and possible corruption to the tune of R600m is value for money for the taxpayer. And the confidence it gives the taxpayer is priceless.”

Several officials were fingered in the forensic investigation, and some were dismissed.

But Western Cape MEC for Transport Robin Carlisle, who is also on the RTMC shareholders committee, said the agency was already broke and should not be spending such huge amounts on legal costs.

“Things are going from bad to worse. This is an embarrassment,” he said.

He said there was no need for the RTMC to keep defending the cases as some of the officials who were fingered in the forensic investigation should not have been dismissed.

“They held very important positions. They should be reinstated because there was no evidence that they committed fraud.

“If you cannot get closure and you keep paying, the Auditor-General will say it is fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” said Carlisle.

While the corporation has spent millions on legal fees, several projects have been put on ice because there is no money.

solly.maphumulo@inl.co.za

The Star


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