Man fired while on leave

2008-02-04 00:00

AN Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife top manager was fired while he was on leave — after allegedly being fingered as an “ANC spy”.

Human Resources manager Nhlanhla Mpondi returned to work last week to find a letter of dismissal.

His dismissal comes amid legal battles with Ezemvelo senior management regarding his probation.

Mpondi was hired as HR manager at Ezemvelo in February last year, but he told The Witness he never felt welcome.

Mpondi alleges that his boss, executive director of corporate support services Joe Baloyi, told him that Exco members discussed at a meeting on May 7 last year that he was an ANC-planted spy.

In an e-mail to all Exco members, he demanded answers about the allegation. He said Baloyi told him that “people are not happy with my presence in this organisation as it is alleged that I am the ANC spy … because there is a belief that I have direct access to the MEC [for Environmental Affairs, Mtholephi Mthimkhulu]”.

He challenged Exco members to prove where he had demonstrated his political affiliation. In an

e-mail reply, Baloyi denied telling Mpondi about the spy story.

Ezemvelo CEO Khulani Mkhize called in a mediator. In a report afterwards, Mkhize suggested that Mpondi apologise to Exco, which he refused to do.

On September 29, Baloyi sent a memorandum to Mpondi informing him that he was unable to submit the necessary documents to evaluate his work.

Mpondi was told that his probation period had been extended to October 31 and was ordered to submit certain documents in order to be evaluated.

In a letter dated November 2, Mkhize asked Mpondi to make a written presentation on his work in order to be evaluated, giving him until November 5 to do this.

He contacted his lawyers to handle the matter and an arrangement was made for the presentation to be done in the presence of Mpondi’s lawyers.

Mpondi said Mkhize seemed satisfied with the presentation.

Mpondi went on leave on December 24 and returned last Tuesday. On Thursday, he could not access the computer network and on Friday he received a letter of dismissal dated January 22.

Mpondi said the letter states that he failed to meet with Baloyi to discuss his “exit”, but the letter inviting Mpondi to meet with Baloyi was dated January 11.

Sources in management in the organisation confirmed that Mpondi was called a spy.

“He was victimised and was never welcomed,” said one.

In an attempt to get a response The Witness sent 14 questions to Mkhize on Thursday, January 31, regarding Mpondi’s dismissal.

Ezemvelo spokesman Jeff Gaisford failed to respond to direct questions, but said: “Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife follows to the letter the requirements of the Labour Act in the management of its staff at all levels.

“Furthermore, the organisation respects the right of the individual to confidentiality with regard to any personal human resource issues.”

All this comes amid a cloud of uncertainty over Ezemvelo, after Mthimkhulu relieved the board of its accounting responsibilities in November 2007, pending a forensic investigation.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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