FILED SUIT: Melissa Whitehead
Cape Town - Suspended City transport commissioner Melissa Whitehead is idling her time away at a princely sum of R250000 a month, all courtesy of the taxpayers.

Whitehead, suspended in January as commissioner for transport and urban development, earns just more than R3 million annually with benefits and will continue to receive the benefits until an independent investigation into her conduct is completed.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo confirmed that she is still suspended and receiving her full salary while not at work.

“Disciplinary proceedings have been instituted. However, it must be noted that this is an independent process and must be allowed to run its course. The City cannot commit to timelines as the process is independent,” Tyhalibongo said.

He also confirmed that Gershwin Fortuin is still the acting transport and urban development commissioner.

Whitehead was suspended after several allegations of improper conduct, most of which were contained in the law firm Bowmans' investigation report.

The investigation found suspected acts of corruption relating to a tender for electric buses by Chinese manufacturer BYD.

The BYD matter involves former mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron, who told investigators he Whitehead and other officials changed the itinerary on their overseas trip where they stayed at a hotel in Shenzhen, China. The last night of their five-day stay, the pair were booked in at a hotel in Changsha home of BYD’s electric bus factory.

The report states that BYD executives paid for the stay of the officials.

According to the report, Herron told the law firm’s investigators the company paid for some lunches and dinners. Investigators also suggest that there may have been payments by BYD for the trip.

Overriding all supply chain management regulations, BYD got a R286 million tender months later thanks to Whitehead, who pushed for BYD to be the sole provider for the electric buses.

The company would have opened a manufacturing plant in Atlantis, but that never came to fruition.

Eleven buses that were assembled in a R128m pilot project remain parked at a bus yard in Blackheath.


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Cape Argus