Ezemvelo boss demoted

2008-09-22 00:00

The embattled boss of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Khulani Mkhize, has been demoted from his position as chief executive officer of the nature conservation entity.

The announcement was made yesterday by the MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, after an internal disciplinary tribunal found Mkhize guilty of drunken driving, one of several charges he is facing.

Mkhize had been charged with crashing a hired vehicle which he was driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, and failing to report the accident.

Mkhize crashed the car, which had been hired from Avis in Pietermaritzburg, during the EKZNW board’s tour to Tembe Elephant Park in June.

He was also found guilty of using the car without any authorisation.

Mkhize was suspended in July pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

According to Mthimkhulu, Mkhize had allegedly shown remorse and admitted guilt at the hearing.

In addition to his demotion, Mkhize has also been slapped with a heavy fine of R128 600, which is the monetary value of the hired car that he crashed. He is expected to pay this amount over a period of 24 months.

In addition Mthimkhulu, has ordered Mkhize to undergo “an alcohol related rehabilitative programme”.

Thami Ngidi, the spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, said the position of Mkhize’s successor is going to be advertised, adding that Bheki Khoza will continue to act as the CEO until a new appointment is made.

He however stressed that Mkhize can still apply for the position of CEO “at a later stage” and can again be accepted in the position if the department feels he has been rehabilitated.

“This is a heavy sentence, as you can see, but is not merely just to punish him but it is also aimed at rehabilitating him. We had to take a decision that is also in the best interest of the organisation,” Ngidi said.

He said the action taken against Mkhize was part of an ongoing commitment to cleanup Ezemvelo.

“The MEC made a commitment to turn around the department and all the entities under it. This is also an effort towards making sure that Ezemvelo gets ready for 2010 as we believe that the entity has a very important role to play during the soccer world cup tournament.”

Ngidi said that Mkhize would be demoted to the position of General Manager, a position lower than that of CEO.

The organisation has been beset by a number of problems in the recent past. Last week the entire board of EKZNW was suspended after it was found that some of the board members had failed to disclose some of their interest. A forensic audit probe has also fingered at least 47 employees for involvement in corrupt and fraudulent activities.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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