Road Transport Inspectorate face mismanagement and favouritism allegations
Ntomboxolo Evelyn Thafeni’s appointment has irked members of the Road Traffic Inspectorate who told the Sunday Tribune the department failed to comply with a Labour Court order which ruled that she was not qualified to hold a senior position.
But the Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane denied such claims and said she was only asked to stand in for three days. He said the issue of qualifications had been sorted out. He said the allegations were baseless because she was qualified to act in such a position.
“It is not true, there is no such basis to these allegations, but these are perpetrated by people who are sowing divisions in the department. Whoever is behind them have no basis. Thafeni only acted for three days and in the absence of the appointment letter, it shows she was acting for a few days. She had also acted in may portfolios before without issues,” said Ncalane.
But a member who holds a more senior position than Thafeni said she dod not have the required three-year national diploma in traffic management. He said she was level 10, which is equivalent to a position of a station commander which was below the level she was currently acting in.
“She should not be acting even for a day, because she does not have the qualifications. How can she act in a position above her rank because she is a station commander who is supposed to be reporting to a regional commander not the other way around?”
Thafeni is not new to controversy. The Mercury had reported that the former KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Willies Mchunu was facing a charge of contempt of court for ignoring a Durban Labour Court order to set aside the appointment of a junior and inexperienced employee in a senior provincial traffic officer’s post and directing that the job be re-advertised.
This was after a dispute over the Midway, Ladysmith, post which dates back to 2008. Thafeni was the only candidate out of 19 applicants to be short-listed and interviewed. She scored 50% in her interview test, had only worked as a metro police constable in Cape Town for two-and-a-half years and did not have any supervisory experience, as the post dictated. Two unsuccessful applicants, Veeresh Shewnarain and Rogers Harilal – who claimed they had been barred because of their race – lodged an unfair labour practice dispute and, in February 2011, an arbitrator ruled in their favour, saying Thafeni did not have the requisite experience for the job.
Two senior officers who spoke to the Sunday Tribune said Thafeni’s acting position was equivalent to the one she was found by the court not meeting the criteria. They said she has been acting in top positions across the province. Thafeni has acted as chief provincial inspector at Nongoma RTI in 2018.
It is alleged that the same year she was also appointed an acting chief provincial inspector of Traffic Camera Office last year after the suspension of regional commander in Empangeni before being appointed an acting regional commander until January this year.
“We all don’t know her portfolio anymore, she is sent all over: She always receives special treatment of being appointed to top positions which she does not qualify to hold. She only possesses a social science qualification not a required national diploma in traffic management or any relevant tertiary qualification,” she said.
Harilal said he has requested a civil organisation, Corruption Watch to investigate the issue of irregular appointments within the department. He said the appointment of under-qualified staff led to a hike in road accidents because of incompetency.
When Thafeni was contacted for comment she said she was not in a position to respond but she accused the Sunday Tribune of having a vested interest in the affairs of the department.
“Last week you called a person who was seated next to me about the issue of the uniform but this week you are jumping to another story without getting a response on the uniform,” said Thafeni.