Ex-Agric boss gets another chance

2009-10-26 00:00

THE former provincial head of the KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture Department, Modidima Mannya, was given 15 days in terms of a high court ruling on Friday to apply for a review of the disciplinary proceedings that recommended that he be dismissed.

Acting Judge Nigel Hollis handed down a reserved judgment in which he granted Mannya’s request for a temporary interdict stopping the KZN premier from implementing his dismissal or “any disciplinary sanction”.

The interdict is effective pending a review of a disciplinary inquiry that found Mannya guilty on 16 counts of misconduct in July  2009 and recommended he be dismissed.

However, instead of the usual 20 days to institute legal proceedings for a review, Hollis has given Mannya 15 days from the date of delivery of his judgment as “time is of the essence”.

In his judgment, Hollis rejected submissions on behalf of the premier that Mannya has effectively already been dismissed, as well as a suggestion that the issues in question fall within the jurisdiction of the Labour Court and that Mannya was prevented from seeking redress in the high court.

He said in the judgment the high court has jurisdiction to adjudicate Mannya’s claim that the disciplinary proceedings (or its presiding officer, advocate B.J. Buthelezi,) were biased.

He added that “whether this is so or not is not for this court to decide at this stage”.

Mannya alleged in support of his application for the temporary interdict in July that the presiding officer was biased and that the proceedings were unfair.

In support of his application, the deputy president of the National African Farmers’ Union of SA, Dr Mandla Buthelezi, alleged that the chairman of the disciplinary inquiry told him that he had been instructed to find Mannya guilty at all costs.

He also refused to recuse himself from the hearing when asked to do so.

*While Friday’s judgment was still pending, the premier last month attempted to withdraw an undertaking given via lawyers that he would not implement Mannya’s dismissal until the court case was finalised.

In court papers it was admitted on his behalf that Mannya had been served with an official letter of dismissal.

Defending the premier’s action on affidavit, special adviser to the premier, Godrey Mdhluli, said the province could not continue to pay Mannya endlessly and made it clear that whatever the outcome of legal proceedings, the government has no intention of reinstating him in his former position.

That case has been set down for argument on the opposed roll of the high court on November 18.

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