Ezemvelo: Suspended members appeal to court

2008-09-25 00:00

SUSPENDED board members of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) have lodged an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in a bid to have their suspension overturned.

In the court papers, filed this week, the five board members argue that the decision to suspend them was “unlawful” and should be declared void.

They are also seeking to be re-instated “with immediate effect … pending the final determination of [their] application”.

All five applicants also seek to have the appointment, by Agriculture and Environmental Affairs MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, of the three members of the interim accounting authority of EKZNW be declared unlawful and void.

The five board members — Patrick Sokhela, Ilan Lax, Philani Shangase, Thulani Nkosi and Obed Shange — were suspended last week by the MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, following recommendations by two committees of the provincial legislature.

The recommendation was taken at a joint sitting of the legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) and the portfolio committee on finance and economic development, where a forensic report into the affairs of the nature conservation entity was discussed.

The report fingers at least 47 EKZNW employees in corrupt and fraudulent activities. It also finds that some members of the board failed to disclose their personal interests that could be deemed to be in conflict with the interests of the board.

Following the meeting, Mthimkhulu held a meeting with the board members and last Thursday announced their suspension.

At the time, he stressed that the suspension was not a punitive measure, but was to allow the board members to present their side of the story.

The applicants argue that there is “no duty on the board members, in advance, to disclose each and every interest they have”.

Khulekani Ntshangase, the spokesman for the KZN Agriculture Department, confirmed that the papers were served on Mthimkhulu this week.

He said that Mthimkhulu intends opposing the application. “The MEC believes that by suspending the board members he acted in the best interest of the process that is under way and will therefore be defending his action,” Ntshangase said.

The matter will be heard today.


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