Picture: Matthews Baloyi
While the City of Joburg and the attorneys of a suspended senior official in the planning department continue to argue over the legalities of the charges, former assistant director Preggie Naidoo has received a hefty R80 000 a month salary for the past 26 months - a total of more than R2million - for sitting at home.

Naidoo, former assistant director of the national building regulations: plans examinations, claims that after differences with a former director, he was demoted to assistant director of plans examinations. He claims the charges were trumped up by the former director, who has since left the municipality.

He says he has been battling with the city to bring a finalisation to the suspension and disciplinary action so that he can be reinstated and stop costing ratepayers money for sitting at home.

“I want this finalised. It is highly unusual for such procedures to take this long - it normally takes three to four months,” Naidoo said.

He said his position was filled in January, and has produced an email from the city, distributed by the director of building development management, dated January 10, to all staff and management within the development planning department, stating that his position had been filled and announcing the person’s name. The Star has seen a copy.

“This effectively means that prior to the disciplinary inquiry being finalised, the city filled my position. It became obvious the city had no intention to conduct a fair hearing and that it had made up its mind even before the inquiry against me was finalised. This means I have been deemed guilty without the proceedings being finalised,” he said.

He has now resorted to appointing lawyers to bring the matter to finalisation.

Naidoo, who has been employed by the city since 2007, claims there was no credence to the charges.

“More than two years have since passed through no fault or delay on my part,” he noted.

He was initially suspended after he says he “wagged a finger” at a member of the public who had entered a private office space without permission.

Later, charges relating to operational reviews were added, yet no operational reviews were formally raised, he said.

“The entire disciplinary inquiry was, and is, a farce. I had no objection to defend these charges as I believe I will be triumphant, as I was not at fault. I was prepared to defend myself.”

Naidoo, in desperation, approached mayor Herman Mashaba’s office, requesting that the suspension be lifted and that he report for work in his former position on February 20. He was verbally told this would happen, but it never did.

He was later informed that the decision to lift the suspension had been rejected and that the disciplinary case should continue.

The city, in response, denied that his position had been filled. It said he had been charged with eight allegations of misconduct.

John Mobe, the city’s acting director for labour relations, said Naidoo had held up the process when he raised preliminary points arguing that the chairperson was not properly appointed, which was dismissed.

“After the city’s case was stated, he approached the office of the mayor, requesting that his suspension be uplifted and charges against him be dropped.

“The mayor appointed the group corporate and shared services (GCSS) to look into the issue and, where possible, attempt to resolve the issue.”

An investigation was conducted and several meetings were held with the employee, Mobe said.

“During the investigation, it became apparent that it was not true that the employee’s position was filled by the department. GCSS also took a decision to uplift the employee’s suspension pending the outcome of the hearing as, in the view of GCSS, the period of suspension was inordinate.”

Mobe said Naidoo refused to accept the upliftment of his suspension and had sought the withdrawal of disciplinary charges against him, a claim which Naidoo denies.

Mobe added that Naidoo had argued his defence in February and had submitted his closing arguments on March 14.

The city’s closing arguments were submitted on March 28, and the outcome from the chairperson was expected today.

The Star