Perumal finally out

2012-10-10 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality has finally parted ways with senior manager Kevin Perumal, who had been on the council’s payroll for more than two years while on special leave, costing ratepayers R1,5 million.

The municipality this week won its appeal against the ruling of an internal disciplinary hearing that had cleared Perumal of all charges levelled against him by the city administration team.

Senior managers at his level earn between R750 000 and R890 000 per year, which means the former deputy municipal manager for corporate services pocketed over R1,5 million while sitting at home.

He was one of four senior managers who were suspended and charged with maladministration when the municipality was placed under administration after going bankrupt.

The collapse of governance and financial management in the municipality also led to the sacking of then mayor, Zanele Hlatshwayo, and her executive.

Former municipal manager Rob Haswell resigned.

The then chief financial officer (CFO) also resigned halfway through his disciplinary hearing, as did senior managers Francis Grantham and Zwe Hulane.

Perumal challenged his suspension at an internal hearing and won his case in October last year.

His advocate, Shane Moodley, said at the time that charges against Perumal were based on a forensic report by Firm, a forensic investigations company.

“These charges had nothing to do with the financial crisis of the municipality or the meter-reading contract. In fact, not a single allegation of dishonesty or personal enrichment was levelled against Kevin Perumal,” Moodley said.

However, after the hearing then administrator Sibusiso Sithole placed Perumal on special leave, while reviewing the decision.

The Witness understands that after Sithole left, Perumal in January approached newly-appointed municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi and asked to have his job back.

Nkosi refused to accept Perumal and placed him on special leave again and referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The arbitrator ruled that Perumal had no grounds to force the municipality to give him his job back, as his contract had expired at the end of August and the employer had no obligation to renew it.

Nkosi confirmed that Perumal was no longer a municipal employee. “I am however not in a position to give you finer details as that is confidential information between employer and employee,” he added.

Perumal said: “I have no comment at this stage, because my attorneys are still looking at the outcome of the arbitration and will only get back to me next week.”

Opposition parties in council have welcomed the outcome.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this whole saga has finally ended. It has been a disaster in the history of the council.”

Lambert said the case had cost the municipality thousands of rands. “This news will be welcomed by the long-suffering ratepayers who were burdened by this unnecessary expense,” he said.

IFP caucus leader Dolo Zondi said the Executive Committee had agreed to buy Perumal out of his contract but nothing ever came out of that. “I feel sorry for the poor ratepayers and think it’s about time the ruling party really looked at the people they deploy in council, because Perumal was a former councillor for the ANC before he became an official,” said Zondi.

NFP caucus leader Patrick Bhengu concurred with his counterparts, saying that Perumal should have left the council a long time ago as he was no longer an asset but a liability to the municipality. “We urged the ruling party to look into its deployment and do thorough screening of whoever is deployed in the municipality, otherwise matters like these will never end,” he added.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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