Union cries foul over eThekwini's ‘special treatment’ for non-black officials
The union says the city is “quick” to suspend black officials and junior employees, but turned a blind eye to those of different a skin colour.
Samwu official Dumisani Luthuli said they had observed that black employees implicated in wrongdoing by the City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) were quickly suspended, while their colleagues of different skin colour who faced similar charges remained at work.
“We have noted how black employees get sent on leave once they are investigated by the CIIU. Piet du Plessis, the head of revenue, is charged with, among other things, gross misconduct and gross dereliction of duty. Malcolm Joshua, the head of city fleet, was charged with gross and financial misconduct. Yet both these senior employees are still at work. There are other senior people in connection with the city’s billing system and they are yet to be suspended. Why? It can’t be normal to treat employees of the same institution differently, not unless there are underhanded tactics at play,” Luthuli said.
A charge sheet dated November 28, 2019 invited Joshua to attend a disciplinary inquiry in uMhlanga on February 12 to answer to allegations of misconduct. It is alleged that on June 10, 2003 he unlawfully and in contravention of the Municipal Systems Act appointed someone as deputy head of technical operations, a position that did not exist in the municipal structure.
“As a consequence of the decisions taken by the said person (name withheld), eThekwini Municipality has incurred fruitless, wasteful, irregular and unauthorised expenditure. Your actions render you guilty of gross misconduct,” reads the charge sheet.
Du Plessis’ charge sheet is also dated November 28 and calls him to the same uMhlanga venue on February 13 to answer to charges of gross misconduct and dereliction of duty.
He is alleged to have approved a recommendation of the bid evaluation committee to award a tender to an unregistered company, and failing to ensure that the “tax matters” of an entity were in order.
Among the officials that have been recently suspended for alleged misconduct are Robbert Abbu, (deputy head: Durban Solid Waste), Sandile Maphumulo (head: electricity) and Sandile Ngcobo (deputy head: supply chain) who was suspended earlier this month.
EThekwini spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said these were internal matters and requested space for the authorities to deal with them.
“We have nothing to hide, but the matters in question are to be dealt with internally, like any other workplace issues,” he said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said it was concerning to hear the unions talking about alleged preferential treatment.
“How safe are the whistle-blowers when the alleged rogue officials are kept at work? There has to be a way to force the city manager to remove the rotten apples to allow for the smooth progression of municipal programmes,” Nkosi said.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said the city could only suspend officials in certain instances.