R1.5m golden handshake probed
Mbombela - Mpumalanga's capital city may have to answer to the public protector and auditor general after agreeing to pay a R1.5m golden handshake to controversial former municipal manager Jacob Dladla.
The law firm which represented the council in the matter, Kruger Moeletsi Attorneys, is also planning to take the council to task for terminating their services without their knowledge and reaching an out-of-court settlement with Dladla.
“Council’s decision [to settle with Dladla] may be a total waste of taxpayers’ money. Our advocate is already busy drawing up a case that we will send to the public protector and the auditor general,” said senior director at the law firm, Johan du Preez.
On October 28, the Mbombela council adopted a report that advised settling with Dladla and withdrawing all internal charges against him as the council had "insufficient" funds to cover the legal battle.
The out-of-court settlement is said to have saved the municipality R6.5m in legal costs and a possible R13m if Dladla’s case went to the Constitutional Court.
On November 1, Dladla’s lawyers withdrew his application to appeal his 2009 dismissal in the labour court.
Judge David Gush noted the withdrawal and ordered Dladla to pay Mbombela’s legal costs, which are yet to be determined.
Mbombela mayor Cathy Dlamini declined to comment on Dladla’s settlement or terminating Kruger Moeletsi Attorney's services.
She referred all questions to mayoral committee member Sibusiso Mathonsi.
Mathonsi insisted that Kruger Moeletsi had been informed about the termination of their services.
“We tried as early as June to stop their services. Even last week we tried to send them a fax but their machine was broken,” said Mathonsi.
Du Preez denies receiving any notice from the municipality and said he only learnt about Dladla’s golden handshake through the media.
He said he tried to call Dlamini’s office but was told that the mayor would only be available to speak to him at the end of November.
“I then sent an SMS to Mathonsi but he never responded,” said Du Preez.
As early as April 2008 forensic investigators from Ngobe-Nkosi Attorneys recommended that Dladla be dismissed.
Dladla’s disciplinary hearing started in July 2008 and was postponed five times before he was finally sacked after an internal disciplinary hearing found him guilty of negligence, financial mismanagement and gross misconduct.
His dismissal related to irregularities surrounding preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, construction of the Mbombela Stadium and Dladla’s refusal to implement 361 council resolutions.
In January 2010 Dladla approached the labour court citing he had a right to appeal his unfair dismissal.
In June this year, Dladla threatened to get an interdict when the council advertised for a new municipal manager.
Mbombela has advertised for a new municipal manager who would be appointed on a five-year contract. The municipal manager would not be allowed to be an elected office bearer of any political party.
The municipality has been run by an acting municipal manager in the interim.
Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Jo Koster said the DA caucus had opposed the municipality’s R1.5m settlement with Dladla.
He said the party had referred the case to the public protector.