Bitou ConCourt bid a ’waste of taxpayers money’
Cape Town - TWO years after the re-appointment of Bitou’s municipal manager, a third court battle is looming at the Constitutional Court as the municipality seeks to appeal prior judgments which set aside the appointment.
Manager Lonwabo Ngoqo and the municipality are taking MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell to the Constitutional Court to appeal decisions by the Labour Court and the Labour Appeals Court to set aside Ngoqo’s appointment in February 2019 after he was dismissed by the same municipality back in 2012 for misconduct.
The appeals were filed in March followed by responding papers from both Bredell as well as the Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers’ Association, who are opposing the appeal.
Both matters are pending a decision from the court on whether the case will be heard.
Meanwhile, the municipality’s costly process to keep Ngoqo in its employ has been condemned as cost orders were awarded against both Ngoqo and the municipality in February when the Labour Appeals Court dismissed their appeal. An order was also made for R781 184 for Ngoqo’s settlement after his dismissal was dismissed.
Legal battles over this matter have been ongoing since 2012 after Ngoqo was first dismissed.
In a statement the ratepayer’s association’s Peter Gaylard labelled the municipality’s pursuit of this matter as shocking and a waste of ratepayers’ money.
“Ngoqo was found guilty of financial misconduct in a disciplinary hearing conducted by a retired Appeal Court judge. This triggered a prohibition on his re-employment that the municipality opportunistically sought to skirt by ‘waiving’ the dismissal,” he said.
“The Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court have both declared the scheme unlawful but the municipality stubbornly ploughs on. All the while money, which could better be spent on service delivery and social upliftment, is being wasted on an exercise that will ultimately prove fruitless.
“We take no pride in being the first ratepayers’ association to fight its municipality in the Constitutional Court. The money and time wasted in the process could be much better spent, but we have no realistic alternative.”
Spokesperson for the department, Rowena van Wyk, confirmed Bredell had filed his opposing papers to the appeals filed by both Ngoqo and the municipality.
“A litigant has the right to appeal a decision of a court and as a result of the leave to appeal, the order of the Labour Appeal Court is suspended until the Constitutional Court has made a determination in the leave to appeal or in the appeal itself. The merits of the leave to appeal is in the hands of the Concourt for a determination to be made,” she said.
“However, the Minister remains concerned that the municipality is using and wasting taxpayers money, particularly in these fiscal constraint times to keep the municipal manager in its employ at all costs. Funds are redirected from service delivery to cover litigation costs and therefore service delivery suffers.”
The Bitou municipality did not respond to questions.