3 senior staff suspended

2014-03-20 00:00

THREE senior staff in the meter-reading and billing sections at Msunduzi Municipality have been suspended from their jobs.

Speculation is rife that this is related to complaints of poor customer service and the meter-reading chaos reported in The Witness.

The suspended officials are Baboo Maharaj, said to be a supervisor in the Meter Reading Section; Vinay Maharaj, an accounts manager also linked to the meter-reading unit, and Victor Ndlovu, described by city hall insiders as a front counter manager.

Maritzburg residents have long complained about the alleged unhelpfulness of front counter staff. The Witness has carried reports of allegations of staff not prepared to listen to residents and who allegedly tell them: “We are not interested in your stories, just pay up. The Witness also carried numerous complaints about chaos in the meter-reading section in which phones were not answered, meters were not being read and readings called in or e-mailed were not being entered onto accounts.

City hall insiders were shocked to learn about the suspensions. Sources at the municipality said they had heard that the suspensions were not only about alleged maladministration but were over allegations of fraud and corruption as well. Some believed that the three could become the fall guys for the poor service delivery in the meter and billing section.

Apparently no charges were put to them and they were suspended pending an investigation into maladministration, fraud and corruption.

All three were described as long-time employees at the municipality, having apparently been there since the early 1990s. Vinay and Baboo were employed for a few more years than Ndlovu. All three were described by colleagues as “very good workers”. Some colleagues were critical of Vinay and Ndlovu’s people skills. Vinay was described as difficult to get along with by some sources. Ndlovu was once fined R3 000 by a Pietermaritzburg magistrate for hitting a municipal customer. The fracas was over the customer not having his lease agreement with him when he went to the municipality to pay for an electricity connection.

Msunduzi spokesperson Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies confirmed the suspensions. She added, however, that the reasons were a matter between the employer and the employee. “We are therefore not at liberty to disclose those details to a third party,” she said.

Jackson-Plaatjies said that the suspensions were linked to a clean up at the municipality, “ to root out all forms of fraud and corruption. We are very serious about rooting out corruption and will do whatever it takes to do this,” she added

Jackson-Plaatjies said the municipality had established a task team that was dealing with corruption and a great deal of progress had been made in this regard including the arrest of internal and external parties.

When contacted all three suspended employees declined to comment. A former colleague, who did not want to be named, said they could not speak at this stage because they were still employees of the municipal and contractually could not speak to the press. He added that they could not comment anyway because as far as he was aware no charges were put to them. They were suspended pending an investigation into certain allegations.

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