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Another suspension looms at Public Works

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Public Works wants to suspend the official who allegedly tipped off property mogul Roux Shabangu about the police’s intention to lease head office space in Pretoria and Durban.

Mokgaetji “Bella” Tlolane is the seventh public servant, excluding former police commissioner Bheki Cele, to face the music over the controversial leases, which saw the ex-top cop lose his job and former minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde being fired.

The Sunday Independent understands that Tlolane, the deputy director of property management and leasing, has been served with a letter informing her of the department’s intention to suspend her.

A source linked to the department, who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said Tlolane had made a submission to fight her pending suspension. A second source in Public Works independently confirmed that a letter of intention to suspend had been issued to Tlolane.

Tlolane this week denied receiving such a letter.

“I was off sick for two weeks but I am back at work. I am not suspended. I will tell you if I am suspended,” she said.

In March, Tlolane was subpoenaed to testify in the inquiry into Cele’s fitness to hold office following his complicity in the matter. Shabangu had submitted a 60-page affidavit naming Tlolane as the official who allegedly tipped him off about the police’s accommodation needs.

Tlolane was the mysterious witness who had delayed the hearings for two weeks, saying she was ill.

She disputed Shabangu’s claims, saying she did not play a role in the acquisition of the building, apart from signing a document as part of her official duties.

But in its findings, the inquiry – chaired by Judge Jake Moloi – described Tlolane as a pathetic witness and her evidence a “cause for concern”. The inquiry had recommended appropriate steps against those involved.

Other Public Works officials to be suspended, including some in provincial departments, are:

l Former director-general Siviwe Dongwana. The Public Works insider told Sunday Independent that charges against Dongwana had been dropped and that it was believed he would be redeployed to a different department as he did not want to return to Public Works.

But Dongwana yesterday said he was still on suspension and could not confirm changes in his status.

l Sam Vukela, former acting director-general and deputy director-general of corporate services, suspended last September. Vukela will face a disciplinary committee next week and referred enquiries to his attorney, Themba Langa. Langa said yesterday they had raised an objection regarding the chair-woman’s professional conduct. They claim she was biased and intent on cashing in on the hearing. They also argued that Vukela could only be charged by the minister and that the charges contained issues still being considered by the Pretoria High Court.

“For the department to go ahead with the disciplinary hearing before the high court makes a decision is tantamount to a kangaroo hearing, which is unfair,” Langa said.

l Vusi Mashiane, director of property management at Public Works, who was suspended in November, managed to overturn his suspension in the Labour Court last week but is yet to return to work. Mashiane took the department to the bargaining council after his suspension was extended from one month to three months and was suspended indefinitely pending the finalisation of the investigation into allegations against him. Mashiane contended that his protracted suspension contravened the public service regulations and was procedurally unfair.

The bargaining council issued an arbitration award ordering that his precautionary suspension should be lifted. But when he reported for duty in July, he was given a new letter of suspension forcing him to approach the labour court.

Mashiane’s lawyer, Deon de Bruyn confirmed that Mashiane’s disciplinary hearing had been postponed to September 3.

l A deputy director general and another official from the department’s Gauteng office were suspended in November last year and are awaiting the decisions of their disciplinary hearings.

l Another employee at the Gauteng office has resigned. The department has refused to comment on any of the suspensions. Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie, the acting director general, said she could not comment on pending internal issues.

candice.bailey@inl.co.za

dianne.hawker@inl.co.za


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