Axed Agriculture HOD: Judge queries dismissal

2009-08-24 00:00

WHILE former head of the KZN Agriculture Department, Modidima Mannya, has gone to court to get an interdict to stop the premier from firing him, the premier’s office maintains that it is too late and that he has already been dismissed.

This was said in legal argument before Acting Judge Nigel Hollis in the high court in Pietermaritzburg on Friday by advocate Griffiths Madonsela. He represented Premier Zweli Mkhize and advocate B.J. Buthelezi, who presided over the disciplinary inquiry that found Mannya guilty on 16 charges of misconduct and recommended on July 17 that he should be dismissed.

Advocate Indhrasen Pillay, for Mannya, submitted that it was never suggested in the court papers that Mannya has already been dismissed. He has not received a letter of dismissal and is still being paid.

Madonsela agreed in response to questions by the judge that Mannya is still being paid, but said this is in accordance with an undertaking when the case commenced.

Pillay denied this.

Hollis commented that he personally had not formed an impression from the voluminous court papers that it was contended that Mannya had been dismissed. “If that is the position then where is the letter of dismissal?” he asked.

Madonsela responded that Mannya “does not need one”, adding that the decision of the presiding officer at the disciplinary inquiry was binding on the premier and not merely a recommendation.

“Well, it’s a funny way of dismissing an employee,” the judge remarked. He will deliver a reserved judgment on the application.

Mannya approached the high court last month for an urgent interdict stopping the premier from implementing his dismissal, pending an application by him for a review of the disciplinary process.

He maintains that the presiding officer was biased. In support of Mannya, the deputy president of the National African Farmers’ Union of SA, Dr Mandla Buthelezi, alleged in an affidavit that B.J. Buthelezi told him that he had been instructed to find Mannya guilty.

Mannya contends the charges against him were “trumped up” because he refused to carry out “certain unlawful instructions” issued by former premier Sbu Ndebele.

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