Durban man takes Pretoria for a R2m ride
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A DURBAN man who now lives in Pretoria has earned more than R2 million from Tshwane Municipality despite being suspended as its chief of emergency services in 2019.
Previn Govender was employed in the post in 2017 on a five-year contract, but the following year aggrieved staff filed a complaint to Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane asking her to investigate Govender’s qualification after suspecting he had misrepresented it when he was hired.
The position required a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification, but the municipality had apparently hired Govender despite him submitting an associate diploma.
The municipality’s acting chief of staff Jordan Griffiths confirmed that Govender was suspended in 2019 and said the municipality acted against Govender before the public protector’s report. He said Tanja Terblanche was currently acting in the position.
According to payroll documentation, which the Daily News has seen, Govender was allegedly still being paid R167 000 a month despite his suspension.
According to Griffiths, the municipality was unable to terminate Govender’s contract on the basis that he misrepresented his qualifications because Govender is disputing his suspension before the Labour Court.
He filed his case in 2019.
Griffiths blamed Covid-19 for the delay in the matter.
Further, he said Govender was alleged to have indicated to the municipality that he wanted to resign and leave Tshwane. The Daily News had contacted Govender last Friday, but he refused to discuss the allegations against him and ended the call.
He also did not respond to messages sent on the same day.
Mkhwebane’s report, released late last year, and which the Daily News has seen, found that Govender’s appointment was unlawful and irregular.
The report also ordered the municipality to recover a reasonable portion of the money that was paid to him and also declare the payment as wasteful expenditure.
The report findings concluded that Govender had misrepresented his qualifications to get the job by allegedly falsely claiming that he had an advanced diploma in fire technology.
The report found that Govender had an associate diploma which was not an equivalent qualification as per the requirement of the position.
The public protector also blamed the municipality for hiring him despite the qualification verification report, which showed that Govender did not have an advanced diploma.
He had allegedly stated in the application form that he had an advanced diploma.
In the response to the public protector’s report, the municipality has defended Govender’s appointment, saying it regarded his qualifications as equivalent to a degree.
Public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said there was no review application lodged by the municipality, nor by Govender against the public protector’s report, which Segalwe said meant that the municipality has to implement the report’s recommendations.
However, Govender is still being paid his salary, is still suspended and the Labour Court dispute still ongoing.
The Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) also stated in the public protector’s report that its qualifications were issued to its members only and were not registered with the South African Qualifications Authority.
SAESI also stated that it never awarded an advanced associate diploma to Govender as he had allegedly claimed when applying for the position.
Obakeng Ramabodu, EFF leader in Tshwane, said the EFF would follow up on this matter and then issue a statement.
ANC leader in Tshwane Kgosi Maepa said he was surprised that Govender was still earning his salary despite the public protector’s recommendations, which were binding. “We have checked for ourselves and we can confirm that the man was still being paid his salary. We are going to take up the matter against him and the municipality because this is fraud,” said Maepa.