Durban City Hall. File Picture: Zanele Zulu African News Agency (ANA)
Durban City Hall. File Picture: Zanele Zulu African News Agency (ANA)

EThekwini Municipality health head faces probe over qualifications

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Oct 17, 2021

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DURBAN - THE eThekwini head of health is facing a probe by the Office of the Public Protector (PP) into her suitability for the job she assumed six months ago following allegations that she is not qualified for it.

Rosemary van Heerden, who was appointed as the head of health earlier this year, is facing a probe by the Office of the Public Protector following an anonymous complaint.

She took up the position in April this year, replacing Dr Nomakhosi Gxagxisa, who recently resigned. At the centre of the probe, it seems, is the question of whether she has a Master’s in public health as demanded by the post.

Prior to being promoted, she was the city’s deputy head in the unit.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Public Protector Oupa Segalwe said: “I can confirm the Public Protector is investigating. An anonymous complaint was received quite recently.

“The investigation is still in its early stages and, accordingly, there isn’t much to report at this stage,” he said.

The PP investigation seems to have triggered action on the side of the municipality as The Mercury understands the municipality has demanded that Van Heerden provide them with her qualifications by this Friday.

Two officials in the city confirmed independently that they were aware a letter had been sent to her requesting the qualifications.

The municipality said the issue was a matter between employer and employee and they would give an update once it has been resolved.

EThekwini Municipality’s spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said: “The city appreciates the interest of the media in this matter. However, this is a matter that is between the employer and the employee concerned and we appeal that it is treated as such.

“The city’s recruitment processes are very thorough and they are intended to ensure that employees meet all requirements of any position advertised.

“Once all internal processes regarding the qualifications of the head of health have been finalised, the city will then communicate accordingly,” he said.

Van Heerden declined to comment and directed questions to the municipality.

The advert for the position listed the requirements as either a medical doctor degree or having NQF level 8 in Public Health.

In announcing her appointment, the municipality said Van Heerden held two Master’s degrees in public health and public administration.

The anonymous complaint sent to the office of the Public Protector alleges that her appointment as the head was illegal saying it was “doubtful” she met the requirements for the job.

“On the municipal information board she has presented herself as having Master’s in Public Health and Public Admin,” said the letter.

It said a request was made for the public protector and eThekwini Municipality to investigate whether Van Heerden does have the necessary qualifications required for the post.

It said should it be found she is not qualified, all those who were involved in the appointment should face sanctions.

The allegations came as no surprise to some political party and labour unions, who said they had been aware of them but had received nothing official.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said he was aware of the allegation but there had been nothing official.

“The obvious issue is how it could happen that that person could be hired when they allegedly do not have the right qualifications,” he said.

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said they were not aware of the allegations and would wait for any investigation to conclude.

Labour unions said they had also been made aware of the allegations and one said it was engaging with its shop stewards in the unit to probe the matter.

Xolani Dube, of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union said they had heard about the allegations but nothing official had been put before them.

“At the moment we will be engaging with our shop stewards in the health unit to get a sense of what is happening, we should have a clear picture by next (this) week.”

Queen Mbatha of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union said they had become aware of the issues through rumours but had received nothing from officials and had not pursued it further as it was a matter between employer and employee.


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