Nkandla ‘scapegoats’ to fight cases individually

2014-11-04 00:00

THE Public Works staffers accused of wasting money at Nkandla will fight their disciplinary charges as individuals, despite earlier union efforts to challenge the cases as a group.

And Sibusiso Chonco, deputy director of contracts at the Department of Public Works, will be the first to plead in a hearing in Durban today.

Media lawyers will also scramble to make the deadline for submissions on press access to 11 public works disciplinary hearings.

This follows a precedent set by The Witness and sister paper Beeld last month in which the newspapers won an order for media access to the hearing of Public Works project manager Jean Rindel.

Union representatives have described their members as “innocent scapegoats” for the improper orders of senior officials and politicians in the R246 million upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla residence.

Yesterday Claude Naicker, KwaZulu-Natal manager of the Public Servants Association, said the 12 accused employees had to defend the charges in 12 separate cases, despite all charges relating to the same project.

“The cases are already under way and so cannot be joined at this stage,” he said.

Naicker also dismissed media reports of a settlement between the department and respondents this week.

He said additional state documents — potentially including sensitive project documents — would be demanded in many cases.

“If there is a charge against you based on certain documents, then those documents must be forthcoming,” he said.

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