17/09/2010 Shan Ramburuth Competition Commissioner JHB. (236) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - Competition Commissioner Shan Ramburuth has been forced to resign after he visited a pornographic website using his work 3G card two years ago, contributing towards a R120 000 bill for international roaming.

The commission accounts to the Economic Development Ministry.

Department spokesman Manelisi Wolela confirmed on Saturday night that Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel had accepted Ramburuth’s resignation.

“The minister is expected to issue a statement (today) on the appointment of an Acting Competition Commissioner,” Wolela said.

Ramburuth confirmed to The Sunday Independent on Saturday that he had visited an “adult website” during a work visit to Paris two years ago, but said it was not possible the visit to the pornographic site was the sole cause of the exorbitant bill.

“I kind of reject the (idea that) entire amount was used in watching adult sites. I used the computer in the normal course (of work) – my mistake was to leave the (data) roaming on,” Ramburuth said.

At the time of the trip, in 2011, many South Africans experienced unexpected and exorbitant bills for international data roaming. Ramburuth says he left his data roaming switched on overnight, resulting in his computer automatically updating programmes.

He said yesterday he was embarrassed about the incident and would pay the full amount of R120 000 back to the commission.

Ramburuth, who led investigations into anti-competitive behaviour in the construction, health and telecommunications industries, said he had been under investigation by Patel since June last year after complaints about his management style, allegedly from his then-deputy Tembinkosi Bonakele.

Bonakele has subsequently resigned from the commission, amid rumours that his departure this past March was caused by tension and disputes between the leadership of the commission and Patel.

He was recently appointed to the SABC board.

“The investigation began when Tembinkosi complained to the minister about my management style, saying I treated staff badly. The minister then began an investigation to decide whether to pursue the case or not,” Ramburuth said on Saturday.

Bonakele refused to comment on Saturday, saying it was “an old story”.

 

Wolela said Patel had “initiated an investigation into (Ramburuth’s) fitness as commissioner after receiving a complaint relating to his conduct”.

 

The probe uncovered the alleged abuse of his work 3G allowance and the visit to the porn site.

Sunday Independent