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Suspended Mhlathuze Water Board CEO loses reinstatement court bid

Suspended Mthokozisi Duze. File Picture

Suspended Mthokozisi Duze. File Picture

Published Jul 1, 2022

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Durban - The suspended chief executive officer, Mthokozisi Duze, has lost his urgent Labour Court case where he wanted it to make a declaratory order that he be returned to work with immediate effect.

On Friday Judge Dephny Mahosi of the court said the matter lacks the urgency Duze and his legal team claimed in the application.

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Duze and the water board’s chief financial officer, Babongile Mnyandu, were placed on suspension after allegations of fraud were levelled against them following an internal forensic probe.

Duze is fighting the suspension and the charges levelled against him, claiming that he is a victim of a witch-hunt.

“Having read the documents and having considered the application: It is ordered that the matter is struck off the roll for lack of urgency. The applicant (Duze) must pay the respondents (Mhlathuze Water Board) costs,” read Judge Mahosi’s order.

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It is understood that the embattled water board which is based in Richards Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal and supplies bulk water to towns like Empangeni, is also trying to recover some R60 million from Duze.

Asked about the setback, Duze said he was still going to enrol the matter because the ruling was merely about urgency, not about the merits of the case.

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“The matter lacks urgency. Not substance read. We are still enrolling it (sic),” Duze said in a response sent via WhatsApp to IOL.

The Labour Court setback comes a few days after it emerged that the Hawks have launched an inquiry that implicates him in money laundering.

The information about the inquiry is contained in two letters which have been served to two Durban-based law firms where a Hawks investigator is requesting certain invoices and information, which he believes could give him more insight.

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According to the confidential court documents (the matter was not heard in an open court), the request for information appears to have been ignored by the directors of the law firms.

The Hawks investigator who cannot be named for security reasons, had to ask the courts to assist him through legal avenues.

“You are hereby required to appear in person before me or any other magistrate in the Durban Magistrate Court on the 26 May, 2022 at 8:30am to be examined by the Public Prosecutor duly authorised thereto about all that you may know about the alleged offence with fraud, corruption and money, suspected to have been committed by suspects… Mthokozisi Duze, Babongile Mnyandu…,” reads part of the subpoena which was issued in terms of section 205 act 51 of 1977.

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It is known that Duze has been on the watch list of the Hawks after a whistle-blower wrote a letter to the crime-fighting unit and alleged that he was developing a mansion in the exclusive and lush suburb of Mtunzini, along the N2, near Richards Bay.

The whistle-blower alleged in his letter that Duze was financing the development through cash and that raised suspicions that the money could have been illegally obtained.

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