Surprise over official's Nkandla trial plea deal

2014-12-31 12:16
(AFP)

(AFP)

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Jonathan Erasmus, The Witness

Durban - The guilty plea deal reached by a senior public works official for his involvement in the Nkandla scandal has caught everyone by surprise.

And reports that the 12 KwaZulu-Natal officials equally implicated may follow suit have been deemed speculation by their union representative from the Public Servants Association (PSA). He maintains that their members will stick to their pleas of “not guilty” for now.

Itumeleng Molosi - represented by Nehawu at his hearing, and now based in Johannesburg - served a brief spell as department of public works KZN director towards the end of the construction of the R246m upgrades of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

Two-month suspension

At a closed hearing in Durban, Molosi admitted to failing to ensure that all Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) procurement processes were followed. He accepted a two-month unpaid suspension as part of his penalty, but with his job and pension intact.

Contacted by The Witness, Molosi would not comment on whether he took a deal to save his pension and referred all queries to the department of public works (DPW). But he did say that other officials implicated haven’t spoken to him since he admitted his guilt.

Another official facing sanction said the first he heard about Molosi’s deal was when it was published in City Press on Sunday.

Surprise

Durban PSA head Claude Naiker said Molosi’s deal “surprised us”.

“As it stands, our 12 clients have all stated they are not guilty.

“Once the disciplinary hearings commence and we see the evidence, we will have a better idea [as to what our members’ options are],” he said.

He said if the DPW had strong evidence against Molosi, then his deal was “a good result” as his pension and job are still intact.

Naiker said the majority of officials face charges similar to Molosi’s.

The KZN 12 are expected to begin their disciplinary hearings in the new year.

A court application by Media24 to gain access to the process is pending.

But Media24 lawyer Willem de Klerk said nothing stops the accused officials and the DPW “from settling at any time, even though the media application is pending”.

Molosi was a member of the department’s bid adjudication committee, accused by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) of financial misconduct and irregular expenditure.

The SIU found that Molosi approved a “negotiated procurement strategy” instead of an open tender system by which tenders are advertised.

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