Previn Govender
Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has hit back at claims regarding the fact it hired an unqualified emergency services (EMS) chief in Previn Govender.

However, the metro’s position seems to have done very little to douse the raging flames.

Acting city manager Moeketsi Ntsimane said an independent investigation confirmed that the Govender possessed the required qualifications for the position.

He said this was in keeping with the appointment requirements, primary function and key performance areas, as advertised. The internal investigation also confirmed that there was no evidence that Govender misrepresented his qualifications, he said. He also denied that Govender took leave in order to avoid arrest, adding there was no warrant of arrest against him.

According to Ntsimane, Govender in his application stated that he was in possession of an Advanced (Associate) Diploma in Fire Technology (NQF 7).

He said the qualification was verified by Managed Integrity Evaluation. “The recruitment officers of the City of Tshwane deemed this as equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. The investigation concluded that Govender qualified based on the Industry of Fire and Emergency trades and occupations, which pre-dates the South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa) and are not conventional qualifications.”

He said the view was based on the system used in the municipality. “The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, in its response to the City in relation to the prescribed qualifications for chief of fire as legislated by the Fire Brigade Services Act, said there was no legally prescribed standard in the form of regulations to evaluate prescribed qualifications and experience.

“Therefore, municipalities have been appointing chief of fire/emergency based on their own requirements, policies and standards. In addition, the South African Emergency Services Institute in 1999 issued a circular where the qualification requirements of fire service personnel were amended.

“The document provided a comparison of fire brigade personnel qualifications and requirements previously required and then amended equivalents. The Associated Diploma in Fire Technology is stated to be a National Diploma, being Grade 12 and three-year tertiary qualification. Again this process was not regularised.”

Ntsimane said the City applied the principles consistently, and it was its “standard with regard to fire and emergency personnel”.

He said Govender did not claim to have qualifications that he did not have “except the issue of NQF Level 7, which was not a requirement for the post”. Govender had more than 20 years in the industry, 15 at a senior management level, he added.

Also yesterday, the Fire Professions Council of Southern Africa said the Saqa, in its last statement, explained that Southern African Emergency Services Institute qualifications were not in line with NQF, and had not applied for accreditation for the diploma.

In a letter to the City which the Pretoria News has seen, the organisation said: “what the City of Tshwane is doing is failing to differentiate between an accredited and non-accredited qualifications”

It said the Tshwane University of Technology remained the only institution offering fire qualifications in the country; when applying for Recognition of Prior Learning for access to the diploma, members were subjected to an assessment in which the positive outcome placed them in the third-year (NQF level 6; diploma level).

The organisation said it was misleading to say all applicants for the position were under-qualified and lacked experience. “the question at stake is: how the municipality can appoint someone with a non-accredited diploma? The DA should stop defending the wrong things. If the appointment was based on colour, not merit, please say so and stop bringing the firefighting career into disrepute.”

Pretoria News