Post Office bosses under fire

2011-10-15 11:52

The parliamentary portfolio committee on communications and a labour union have called for criminal charges to be pressed against a senior executive of the South African Post Office (Sapo) who has resigned amid a R425-million tender lease scandal.

Sapo’s chief operating officer John Wentzel has quit the parastatal at a time when there are still unanswered questions relating to the lease contract awarded to commercial property developing firm M&T without proper tender regulations being followed.

Sikhumbuzo Kholwane, the chairperson of Parliament’s communications portfolio committee, said: “The board must also take action against the chief executive (Motshoanetse Lefoka).

“Sapo must tell us if he (Wentzel) is going to receive a golden handshake or if he is going to walk away empty handed like in most normal resignations.

“We also want to know if criminal charges are going to be laid. People must not mess up and then resign. They were appointed to perform duties.”

Sapo had not replied to questions sent by City Press by the time of going to press. The Department of Communications, which oversees the mailing and banking parastatal, had also not responded.

This week, Wentzel – who was also acting as the managing director of Post Bank – confirmed his career at Sapo was over.

“I have not been dismissed. I have reached an amicable settlement with the board and will leave the company at the end of October,” said Wentzel in an SMS response.

“The terms of the settlement are confidential. Please note that this will be the only comment from me and City Press must not contact me again,” he said.

In July, City Press revealed how Treasury regulations were flouted when the R425-million contract was awarded to M&T without the tender being advertised.

The contract involved the moving of the Post Office headquarters from Tshwane to the Eco Park Estate in Centurion.

Tutu Mokoena, the spokesperson of the South African Postal Workers Union, this week questioned why the parastatal had accepted Wentzel’s resignation without pressing criminal charges against him.

“When a teller is accused of stealing R200, Sapo immediately presses criminal charges against the accused,” said Mokoena.

“But when it is an executive, the police are not called in to resolve the matter,” he said.

It was still unclear what fate awaited Lefoka and Sapo head of strategy Marietjie Lancaster, who both faced a disciplinary process for their involvement in the tender scandal.

However, the Communication Workers Union released a statement claiming that Lefoka had been suspended.

The union’s spokesperson Matankane Mothapo urged Sapo to release findings of an investigation it conducted on the lease deal.

“Sapo must release the report into the public domain as a matter of extreme urgency to expose those who were involved in this game of looting public resources.

“We will persistently enquire regarding this report as we believe that none of the two senior executives (Wentzel and Lefoka) should be allowed to get off scot-free,” Mothapo said.

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