Rindel’s change of heart on media access a ‘delay tactic’

2014-12-05 00:00

A SENIOR Public Works employee who oversaw the construction of the ­president’s pricey Nkandla residence no longer wants media to have access to his disciplinary hearing.

But ironically the Department of Public Works’ ­legal counsel is not interested in Jean Rindel’s change of heart and have called this U-turn nothing more than a “delay tactic”, claiming they are ready to proceed as soon as possible.

During the start of Rindel’s ­disciplinary hearing yesterday it was ­suggested that there was “political ­interference” to dismiss the 12 staff, ­including Rindel, all charged with ­maladministration and their alleged role in ­disregarding ­government policy to build the R246 ­million estate. Indications are that Rindel would seek a settlement rather than fight the department.

Even the disciplinary commissioner advocate Joseph Nxusani — who ruled in September that the media would be allowed into Rindel’s hearings — said he didn’t see how the Nkandla project manager could have the decision reviewed.

Described as the “main man” by DPW’s legal counsel advocate Lynette Naidoo, she called Rindel’s decision to ­relook at the media access as “opportunistic delays”.

But Rindel’s lawyer Elco Geldenhuys said his client was not represented when he consented to media access. “We have explained to him the consequences of the media being present. If he is dismissed, it could affect his arbitration. His evidence will be in the press before it could be challenged. Rindel does not want media present in the hearing. We need to review your [September] decision [chairperson],” said Geldenhuys.

Last month a ruling was made that the media would be barred from the hearings.

Geldenhuys said they intend to put in a joint application to have Rindel’s ruling overturned when Media24 attempts to have the ruling against it overturned.

Geldenhuys, whose firm is representing all 12 employees, said Rindel’s was the largest matter of them all. “We only ­received documents about Rindel’s case from DPW [on Wednesday]. We need to peruse the documents before we can ­request further documents.”

Nxusani said that Geldenhuys’s proposal to challenge his initial media ruling was “novel”. “I am concerned about the delay. I get the impression that the ­employee has taken decisions that are contradictory and this an attempt to claw back. We are in a situation where the public purse is suffering,” said Nxusani.

The disciplinary hearing will resume on February 25.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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