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Johannesburg - Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) chief executive Nkululeko Poya has allegedly spent millions of rand of taxpayers’ money appointing his friends, relatives and a mother of his child, The Star has learnt.
Sources claim Poya had instructed the interviewing panel in several different cases to appoint certain people who he favoured.
RSR spokeswoman Babalwa Mpendu has denied the allegations, saying all appointments at the RSR were done in accordance with the approved recruitment and selection policy. She denied any nepotism and jobs-for-pals allegations.
The Star can reveal that Poya, who took over as chief executive in 2011 at the RSR, is alleged to have recently appointed the mother of his child, Tamia Sopotela, as an inspector in the Durban office. Sopotela earns close to R500 000 a year.
An e-mail correspondence between Sopotela and Poya discusses the child’s school fees.
“You are very scarce. Don’t forget the school fees, you know it’s towards the end of the month. By the way, the total amount remaining for the year is R7 400.”
Poya responds: “Hi, don’t you want to give me the account number of the school so that I can pay them?”
Sopotela then sent him the school’s account number.
Poya is also alleged to have appointed Mandla Ndudane, a friend he previously worked with at the Department of Roads and Transport in the Eastern Cape, ignoring a recommendation from a vetting company that he should not be hired because his honesty and integrity were questionable.
Ndudane had told the regulator that he was found guilty of negligent driving, but failed to divulge that he had been found guilty of assault in 1995, negligent loss of firearms in 1996 and drunk driving in 2006, according to the vetting company.
A source told The Star that Poya said it was his prerogative to appoint Ndudane in the face of the recommendation.
The Star understands that Poya has allegedly organised employment for his friends and relatives, including relatives of his wife.
Sources say a woman, whose name is known to The Star, who was hired as an administrator after the chief executive had instructed a panel to ensure she got the job, was Poya’s wife’s sister. The woman has Poya’s name under “family” on her Facebook profile.
The Star understands that several other relatives work for the RSR.
It is alleged Poya did not follow human resources policies when he appointed Thanduxolo Fumbata, his friend who previously worked with him at the Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Transport.
Fumbata was allegedly head-hunted because of “a scarce skill” he possessed and was elevated to head of investigations, a senior position, in less than a year.
An insider said the procedure was to advertise the position first and conduct interviews, and if there was no suitable candidate, they would approach recruitment agencies.
“If that fails, then the company can start head-hunting. In Fumbata’s case, the policies were not followed.”
Mpendu has denied this, saying Fumbata had been employed in accordance with the “RSR recruitment and selection policy, which allows for head-hunting in an instance where no suitable candidate was found”.
In another e-mail that The Star has seen, a friend asks Poya to help him find a job for his daughter in May last year.
“As discussed, find attached Puseletso’s CV. I would appreciate if she can have something even if it is a temporal (sic) placement while looking around for a permanent position if you guys don’t have one available. Ingxaki zakhe zisemagxeni kum mhlobam! (I’m currently shouldering all her troubles, my friend).” In August, the friend’s daughter was working for the RSR.
Mpendu said it was a common practice for executives and other employees to receive internship placement requests. Due processes had been followed in the case, she said.
Sources have indicated that Mpendu herself received preferential treatment.
The Star has seen an e-mail Poya sent to Mpendu’s private and work e-mail using his work e-mail address of an advert for her current position, and the newsletter she was going to be responsible for once employed.
Mpendu confirmed the correspondence, saying it was common practice for the RSR to receive requests for clarification from candidates.
Mpendu has previously worked with Poya in the Eastern Cape as a personal assistant.
In another questionable appointment, the RSR employed Archie Mbatha, who had been found guilty on several charges of misconduct by his previous company.
Mbatha declared there was an investigation against him, but continued getting his salary from the company while he was negotiating his settlement after he had started working for the RSR as a senior manager. He resigned recently from his previous company.
Mbatha was found guilty by his previous company of having been reckless in participating in the awarding of a tender. He works in supply chain management.
Ndudane and Mbatha referred all queries to Mpendu.
The Star has learnt that questionable appointments at the RSR had allegedly led to the declaration of a moratorium in the filling of all senior and junior levels of employment in January last year by Deputy Minister of Transport Lydia Chikunga.