Two weeks ago, the society went public about the theft of R12million from its bank accounts.
Shamilla Surjoo said she would leave no stone unturned nor would she spare any expense in challenging the decision, adding that she refused to be used as a “scapegoat”.
She said her attorneys, Cox Yeats, were instructed to dispute the fairness of the dismissal at the appropriate court.
Surjoo questioned why others who sat at senior levels, such as the society’s treasurer, were not held accountable for the missing funds.
“Why is the treasurer very conveniently being protected? The treasurer is the office bearer tasked with safe-keeping of the NPO’s finances together with the finance committee.”
While not legally or criminally charged by the society, Surjoo was found guilty of gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duties and loss of trust, by an independent disciplinary committee.
This after the society discovered that its senior financial administrator, 27, who had online authority for four of the organisation’s bank accounts, allegedly moved funds into her personal account from 2013.
She has since been fired and a case of fraud is being investigated by police.
According to the society’s president and now the acting director, former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob, the finance officer reported directly to Surjoo.
This resulted in Surjoo’s internal disciplinary action.
He confirmed that no other members of the board, including the treasurer, would be subjected to an internal investigation.
Yacoob said the treasurer was holidaying in Sri Lanka and could not speak for her, but she had no cause for concern.
“The treasurer is a volunteer and is not paid for her services. She was also not here on a full-time basis as opposed to the former director, who was employed full-time on a salary of R30000 per month. For that salary, she was tasked with keeping control of the finances and reporting to the board.”
Justice Yacoob added that the society did not accuse Surjoo of taking the money, but merely stated that she was negligent in performing her duties.
Surjoo claimed Justice Yacoob had double standards and referred to a fraud matter at the society’s Pietermaritzburg offices in January 2018 where he was said to have dismantled the entire board.
“The NPO directorate has confirmed that the fiduciary responsibility of an NPO rests with the board and not the director.”
Justice Yacoob said the matters were not the same.
“That board abandoned responsibility altogether. They had given the payment token to the finance officer. They abandoned their responsibilities completely and the treasurer’s responsibility or lack thereof was far more serious.”
Justice Yacoob, however, admitted that while he was not to blame legally, he felt morally responsible.
“I am working very hard and free of charge to try and get rid of my guilt. It should have not happened under my watch. I could have done more. I wrongfully trusted the director. I should have been more careful in overseeing her.”
He said a special general meeting would be held this week to iron out any issues that members might have.