Teta CEO suspended after damning forensic report

2012-09-08 12:22

Transport, Education and Training Authority (Teta) chief executive Maphefo Matlala has been suspended in the wake of a damning forensic investigation.

Matlala was placed under “precautionary suspension” following an investigation that uncovered serious breaches of the organisation’s procurement policies.

The report recommended that she face disciplinary action for the transgressions.

The probe was launched after whistleblower and former Teta executive Secomoco Sibambato wrote to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande alleging the flouting of the organisation’s procurement regulations under Matlala’s watch.

In March last year, Sibambato was expelled as Teta’s corporate services manager for allegedly, among others, failing to ensure that five employees were paid their salaries in late 2010.

She claimed the charges were “trumped up” after she voiced concerns about tender irregularities.

Sibambato is preparing to fight her sacking in the Labour Court after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration upheld her dismissal in July this year.

Teta board chairperson June Dube provided no explanation for Matlala’s suspension but only said: “the CEO has challenged her suspension”.

Matlala replaced Piet Bothma, who was also expelled in 2008 for his alleged involvement in the Fidentia scandal that led to Teta losing about R200 million of its funds that were invested with the now-defunct asset manager.

Bothma is facing criminal charges after he allegedly received about R4.6 million in corrupt payments from Fidentia.

Fidentia imploded in 2007 after the scandal was exposed. Its curators have so far recovered about R26.2 million of the Teta funds.

What the report says

»?The procurement of services from Pretoria-based IT firm Mondial was irregular because the tender was not put to open bidding or closed bidding.

It concluded that the services for which Mondial received R197?448 were not specialised and could have been provided by at least 30 other IT firms in the Johannesburg area.

Deloitte has not invoiced Teta for the work.

»?Acting Teta chief financial officer Thokozani Kubheka, an employee of accounting firm Deloitte seconded to Teta, initiated procurement of services from Deloitte, a move that forensic investigators found to be amounting to conflict of interest.

The report says when the conflict of interest matter was raised with Kubheka in an one-on-one meeting on October 8 2010, he failed to recuse himself from the meeting.

The report says any payments made in respect to the Deloitte tender, which pertained to the reconciliation of Teta’s utilities account, will be considered irregular.

Deloitte has, however, not invoiced Teta for the work.

»?Teta irregularly awarded a tender to a consulting firm Mkwame Mahumu (now Siga Mkwame) to conduct a corporate governance review without putting the work to open bidding or closed bidding. The four-week job netted the consulting firm R276?000.

Spokesperson for the department of higher education, Vuyelwa Qinga, said Minister Blade Nzimande expected the Teta board to act on the allegations.

“The investigation conducted was commissioned by the board after the minister had raised the matter with them (the board) when it was brought to his attention by the whistleblower,” said Qinga.

Deloitte’s executive director Sandile Gwala, who denied any wrongdoing by the accounting firm when City Press broke the story last year, referred this newspaper to the Teta board for comment.

Papa Mkwame, executive director at Siga Mkwame, said he was unable to comment as he had not seen the report.

City Press offered Mondial the opportunity to view the report before it could comment.

The offer was not taken up.

City Press also sent an SMS to Matlala to ask for a comment, but by the time of going to press she had not responded.

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