Johannesburg - The Greater Tzaneen Municipality (GTM) in Limpopo has been struck a major blow by the courts when it was ordered to reinstate the suspended municipal manager, Serapelo Matlala.
Matlala was suspended on November 28 this year on charges of misconduct. But the Labour Court's acting Judge Sean Snyman ordered the municipality to immediately reinstate Matlala to his job.
The DA hailed Matlala and pledged its support to him. It said the municipal manager was in a bid to fight corruption in the municipality.
Mahodiela Ramafalo of Ramafalo Attorneys, who was representing Matlala, welcomed the court’s outcome.
“Our client is happy that he was vindicated by the Labour Court and he has always maintained that the matter at hand could have been resolved internally without engaging the courts,” said Ramafalo.
Municipality spokesperson Neville Ndlala confirmed that the municipal manager had returned to work on Monday, where he has since presided over the weekly executive management meeting.
“The matter has been presented to the executive committee for noting. Council will give a way forward on the matter in due course,” said Ndlala.
Greater Tzaneen DA spokesperson Pohl Rene said “The MM did act correctly in his update according to the MFMA and relevant laws and acts applicable in this situation. He is very strict and work according to the book,”.
According to sources, internal documents and court papers seen by the Sunday Independent, Matlala met his fate after terminating two multi-million contracts awarded to Burgersfort-based company, Tshiamiso Trading 135 PTY LTD, after it allegedly inflated prices for projects.
It is believed that Matlala’s woes started when he tried to clean up financial mismanagement at the municipality, but that did not sit well with those allegedly benefiting from corruption.
Unhappy with his hard-line stance, municipal councillors then resolved to suspend Matlala. He was suspended on November 12 over allegations of misconduct.
His lawyer wrote to the council two days later, demanding the municipal manager’s immediate reinstatement but that did not happen.
Matlala then approached the Labour Court, which ordered he be reinstated.
Rene said political pressure and interference complicated Matlala’s commitment to eradicate irregular expenses.
The municipality said it would continue with a probe into Matlala by appointing an independent investigator. They expect the probe to be concluded by December 19.
The investigations were instituted by Mayor Maripe Mangena, a few days after Matlala’s suspension.