Dundee - A senior Human Resources (HR) official of the IFP-run Endumeni (Dundee) Local Municipality in KZN is facing a disciplinary hearing after he allegedly conducted a "reign of terror", firing employees willy-nilly, costing the municipality millions in legal fees to defend unwinnable cases and later compensating the employees.
Sifiso Mhlungu was also accused of misleading the council when presenting these cases. He was suspended on full pay in December last year.
He tried to challenge his suspension at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council on the basis that it was unfair, but he lost.
NEWS: A senior official of the IFP-run Endumeni (Dundee) local municipality in KZN is facing a disciplinary hearing after he allegedly conducted a reign of terror, firing employees willy-nilly, costing the municipality millions in pic.twitter.com/mndgptJuLx— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) June 9, 2023
The council said Mhlungu’s suspension was "procedurally and substantively fair.”
In one case, Mhlungu is said to have “maliciously prosecuted” and fired an employee identified as Pretty Tsotetsi, an arts and culture officer in the municipality.
In 2017, Tsotetsi was tasked with organising for 350 maidens from Endumeni to go to the annual Zulu reed dance that takes place at eNyokeni royal palace in Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Upon issuing a request for quotations, two service providers submitted their quotes, one for R65 000 and the other one for R80 000.
Using her experience in the position, Tsotetsi advised that the R65 000 quote was under quoted and in the past, service providers under quoted and then failed to deliver, leaving them with an egg on their faces.
She advised the supply chain management officer and later the chief financial officer about the matter. Her advice was supported by quotations that were sourced in 2014 and she proved that with R65 000, the service provider will struggle to deliver.
In order to avert disaster when the R65 000 quote does not work, she advised that the R80 000 service provider be roped in and work on the all-important assignment.
Two years later, Mhlungu suspended and later fired her, nearly ruining her life where her car was almost repossessed.
Tsotetsi took to the fight to the bargaining council and won. But that was not after the municipal had bled millions to defend the "malicious" case.
The commissioner who presided over the matter was scathing, noting that Mhlungu appeared to have an agenda against Tsotetsi.
Mhlungu is also facing a charge of gross dishonesty where the municipality is alleging that between November 1, 2021 and December 1, 2021, he went on a hiring spree where he flouted the recruitment rules and hired unqualified staff.
The hiring spree was later picked up by the Auditor-General during a routine audit, leaving the struggling municipality with an adverse finding.
Mhlungu is also being hauled over the coals for firing an employee whom IOL was told is Vincent Mbuso Ntombela, without a hearing.
His arbitrary decision was later overturned by the bargaining council.
Mhlungu later advised the council to lodge a Labour Court application to halt the payment of Ntombela’s pension payout.
The municipality spent a fortune to defend the case based on Mhlungu’s advice and, it did not only lost, but at some point, it found itself in contempt of the court.
“Your gross negligence caused Endumeni Municipality and its Municipal Managers to be in contempt of the Labour Court order,” reads a part of Mkhungu’s charge sheet in which he is facing six charges.
The municipality confirmed Mhlungu’s case, but said it was not able to share all details with the media.
“It is true that Mr Mhlungu has been suspended and serious charges against him have been laid.
“However, the municipality cannot divulge more information with regards to this case because the internal disciplinary processes are under way.
“We would like to assure the community that the municipality will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that injustice and unethical conduct is rebuked accordingly,” the municipality said in a response to IOL on Friday.