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Durban - Three years after he allegedly abused his position as uShaka Marine World chief executive, Shawn Thompson has been suspended with immediate effect following his arrest this week.
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said the Durban Commercial Crime Unit arrested 47-year-old Thompson on Tuesday afternoon and charged him with corruption.
He appeared in the Durban Commercial Crime Court on Wednesday where the matter was postponed.
According to the charge sheet, Thompson is charged with two counts of corruption.
He is accused of having abused his position as chief executive in that, in 2009, he submitted invoices for and authorised payments of R13 172 from uShaka Marine World to Villa Coco Guest House – a Durban North establishment owned by Thompson and/or his wife, Jackie – for the accommodation of three guests, including a man known as Ken Burman.
Naicker said the three guests of uShaka Marine World were visiting the country.
“It is alleged that the suspect instructed his personal assistant to book the guests at a guest house which was owned by a relative. Once the booking was confirmed at the guest house, the suspect authorised and signed the payment order.”
Thompson was accused of not following the proper procedures in procuring the accommodation for the guests, Naicker said, adding that the matter was investigated internally and “once that process was completed a criminal case was opened”.
Thompson was granted bail of R5 000 and the case was postponed to September 11 for further investigation.
His bail conditions state he must surrender his passport, he cannot leave the province, and has to report to his local police station every week, until the matter is settled.
On Wednesday, Thompson told The Mercury he had yet to see the full charge sheet and would release a full statement once he had read it.
“I’ve got an idea in my mind (what it says) and it will be dealt with at the right time.”
He said he had yet to consult a lawyer and confirmed he was suspended from his position at uShaka with effect from Thursday.
Jacob Henry de Villiers Botha, director of uShaka’s board, said in response to questions e-mailed by The Mercury, that Thompson had informed the board about the charges against him this week.
De Villiers Botha said the board then took a decision to suspend him pending a full investigation.
When called for further comment, he said he had not seen the charge sheet “at the moment”.
“We discussed the alleged case (against Thompson) before. I need to speak to the police to get more information before I can make a detailed comment to the media.”
eThekwini Municipality spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said that the municipality welcomed action by the uShaka board of directors and had requested a report as well as an urgent meeting to discuss the matter.
“We are happy they moved swiftly to appoint an acting CEO, so that operations will not be affected. – Additional reporting by Bernadette Wolhuter and Colleen Dardagan