Municipal boss ‘too scared’ to return to work

2013-03-02 09:08

A Mpumalanga municipal boss is waiting for his staff to “calm down” before he returns to office after he was chased away two weeks ago.

Municipal manager of the Emalahleni municipality George Mthimunye was allegedly accosted and assaulted by his angry staff members on February 14 because of allegations of corruption.

The workers chased him to the ANC’s Nkangala regional offices, claiming that they were dumping him there with the “individuals who deployed him” to the municipality.

Municipal spokesperson Lebohang Mofokeng said Mthimunye had not returned to the office but he was continuing to work as usual.

“Documents are sent to him to sign. There’s no discussion about his future and he will return after the workers have calmed down,” Mofokeng said.

The eMalahleni employees ran amok because the council was ignoring the allegations of tender corruption and mismanagement they levelled against Mthimunye.

Four witnesses said the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members were picketing peacefully outside the municipal building at the time but, when police left, they stormed into Mthimunye’s office and dragged him outside.

“Mthimunye tried to resist, but he was overpowered and beaten up. By the time he arrived at the ANC offices (of the Nkangala region), he was bleeding and had lost one of his shoes,” said a witness.

Samwu tried to block Mthimunye’s employment to the R1.5 million job late last year in the light of a North Gauteng High Court ruling that he had sexually harassed a senior clerk at Dr JS Moroka municipality in Siyabuswa and that he was liable to pay half the cost of a civil claim valued at more than R5 million.

The ANC’s deployment committee recommended Mthimunye for the job, nonetheless.

The union let that matter go. It then complained to the eMalahleni council that Mthimunye was flouting tender procedures and was forging ahead with privatising the municipality’s fleet and waste-management services without consulting workers.

Another complaint was that Mthimunye had closed the municipality’s petrol filling station and signed a contract with a private garage. The contract forced municipal vehicles from offices far away to be driven to eMalahleni just to be filled up.

ANC Nkangala regional secretary Tommy Nkoana said the party would discuss the matter, but he was not available to give updates on what was decided.

Mthimunye resigned from the Dr JS Moroka municipality in 2003 while he was fighting the sexual harassment case.

The late local government minister Sicelo Shiceka deployed him to Naledi municipality in Vryburg, North West, to clean it up. Mthimunye’s contract was not renewed when it expired in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Dr JS Moroka municipality has been struggling to pay all the costs of the sexual harassment case since Judge Jody Kollapen made a judgment in February last year.

The municipality has so far paid R1.4 million towards Ester Mahlangu-Mathibela’s legal and counselling costs.

Mthimunye’s legal costs were paid by the municipality throughout the court process.

The court recently ordered the municipality to pay Mahlangu-Mathibela R3.2 million for past and future loss of earnings.

The amount to be paid for the sexual harassment has still not been determined, pending the consideration of actuarial reports.

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