Durban - The eThekwini Municipality has fired Gideon Phungula, the former head of legal and compliance who C-word in reference to city treasurer, Krish Kumar.
A source told the Daily News that the ruling was issued on Monday morning.
Advocate Maurice Pillemer SC, representing the city and chairing disciplinary proceedings dealing with charges of misconduct against Phungula, found the latter guilty for referring to some of his colleagues of Indian descent as “corrupt coo***s” and “coo***s” five times.
He was also found guilty of trying to manipulate the disciplinary hearing of Zandile Sithole, the city’s suspended supply chain management deputy head. Sithole was suspended on allegations of tender irregularities.
Recorded telephone conversations which took place just over two months ago between Phungula and a colleague, were used as evidence during the proceedings.
The recordings were leaked to the media by unknown people.
In his ruling, Advocate Pillemer stated that he had received written representations from Phungula as well as from the employer, with the latter seeking a sanction of dismissal.
According to the report, which the Daily News has seen, Phungula wrote his own representations pointing out that this was the first time he has been charged with misconduct by the city.
He further argued that in relation to charge five where he was accused of harassment and bullying by a colleague, that issue had been resolved amicably.
This, however, was dismissed by Pillemer as the charge related not on the relationship between him and a colleague, but rather demonstrated that he believed that he was not answerable to the municipal manager to whom he reported, but rather to certain politicians.
It was also pointed out that Phungula, during the call in question, indicated his intention to undermine a disciplinary hearing and to fix the result to accord with what he understood was the political mandate.
“His representations do not deal with why this is not sufficiently serious to totally destroy the employment relationship. The fact that his attempts to undermine a disciplinary process failed does not appear to provide an answer to the seriousness of the misconduct which he committed or any reason why, in the light of his attitude expressed in the call to whether he will take instructions from the municipal manager,” reads the ruling.
In relation to charge six regarding the use of a derogatory term with reference to South Africans of Indian descent, Phungula stated that he regretted having done so. However, this was dismissed and it was argued that the nature of the misconduct warranted the sanction of dismissal.
“Taking all the features referred to above into account in my view, Mr Phungula’s personal circumstances notwithstanding, the only appropriate sanction for the misconduct on which I have found him to be guilty is summary dismissal. I accordingly rule that Mr Phungula is to be summarily dismissed for the misconduct on which he has been found guilty, namely in respect of his guilt on charges 5 and 6 of the charges leveled against him,” said Pillemer in the report.
Phungula and Nzuza could not be reached for comment.