Fired for e-mail joke, doctor visit

2007-11-15 00:00

What was the real reason Monica Mngadi, controversial Umgungund-lovu District municipal manager, sacked Alfred Ntlabathi, the administrative officer for policy development?

According to well-placed sources, Ntlabathi was fired for sending e-mails to colleagues, going to the doctor and because his doctor did not specify why he was booked off work.

Those are the reasons that Mngadi has allegedly given for his disciplinary inquiry.

Sources reported that Ntlabathi was charged with “gross misconduct” for sending e-mails that were not specifically work-related to colleagues.

But Ntlabathi told The Witness that staff sent jokes or prayers to each other daily and that this had never been a problem before. He said that no policy is yet in place to prevent this.

Ntlabathi is also charged with “gross misconduct” for going to his doctor on October 1 at 12 pm and not informing Mngadi of his whereabouts. According to him, however, he did report to her office before leaving. She was not there so he could not inform her personally.

The third charge relates to the doctor's certificate he then produced. Mngadi alleged he was absent without “any valid reason” as the doctor's certificate did not indicate his diagnosis.

“What was wrong with me was between me and my doctor. No one called my doctor to ask him to clarify the sick certificate and no one asked me to clarify it either. In the past they have accepted such certificates without asking questions.”

Ntlabathi said the charges, described as “draconian” by a local human resources practitioner, were trumped up. “The real reasons they fired me were because I challenged the office of the municipal manager on certain issues.”

Sources have also informed The Witness that Ntlabathi was accused of leaking information about Mngadi's credentials to the media.

Ntlabathi said after Mngadi was appointed he raised various issues, including shortfalls in the internal audit, why the HR department had not double-checked Mngadi's qualifications and experience levels and why an external company was called in to do a skills audit.

He also raised questions surrounding the previous suspension of other staff without tangible charges, which he said resulted in the municipality having to pay double salaries.

He said he repeatedly tried to get an appointment with Mngadi to discuss problematic issues with her.

Ntlabathi has sought legal advice on the matter.

Mngadi's qualifications have been questioned by political parties and despite many pleas for her to produce certificates that are absent on her CV or answer questions regarding her honorary doctorate, she has steadfastly refused to do so.

stephs@witness.co.za

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