Hibiscus Coast finally fires health director Sheryl Cwele

2011-10-05 00:00

IT’S official — Sheryl Cwele has been fired by the Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) after an appeals committee supported the decision taken in August by a disciplinary committee for her immediate dismissal.

The announcement was made by HCM municipal manager S’bu Mkhize yesterday during a media briefing on the final verdict of the convicted drug dealer’s employment.

“The decision of the appeals committee chairperson effectively terminates the relationship between Cwele and the Hibiscus Coast Municipality,” said Mkhize.

The matter was chaired by Brian Denny of Norton Rose South Africa after Cwele had appealed against her dismissal arising from a disciplinary hearing. Mkhize said Cwele, who served as the director of health services, came to know her fate last Friday.

“The appeal findings were delivered in the presence of the appeal committee, the applicant and a legal representative from HCM on September 30,” said Mkhize.

He maintained that the dismissal was straightforward and no settlement will be paid to Cwele.

“This was not a negotiation process. It was a matter of misconduct, which sanctioned a dismissal with no payout or settlement amount,” Mkhize said.

The political leadership of HCM welcomed the finality of the Cwele saga and commended Mkhize on how he had handled the matter.

National Freedom Party councillor Zithethele Mhlongo said the rest of the government can learn a thing or two from the municipal manager.

“The process was finalised in a speedy manner in comparison to others in government, which take up to two years sometimes.

This must set a precedent for other cases where the proper process is followed and concluded timeously. We must commend our municipal manager on how he handled this matter.”

Democratic Alliance councillor Lasya Venter said, “We as the DA are very happy today for many reasons. Justice has been done, ratepayers no longer need to subsidise a salary that hasn’t been earned and we can lay this matter to rest.”

HCM Mayor Cynthia Mqwebu thanked Mkhize and the councillors for the unity they have shown in finalising the process.

“Our municipal manager advised us about the process and kept us updated at every step of the way. We all listened and unanimously agreed and welcome the finalisation of this matter.

“We can now focus our efforts on service delivery without having this hanging over our heads.”

Since her drug conviction in May and up until the findings of the appeals committee, Cwele continued to receive her salary, which was believed to be around R50 000 per month, including fringe benefits.

Responding to the news of Cwele’s dismissal, Marie Swanepoel, the mother of Tessa Beetge, said: “Wow, that is great news. It is absolutely fantastic that they have fired her.

“She deserves to be held accountable for her crimes. I am really so glad that some sort of justice is being done.

“People here have been up in arms because they had to pay her salary.”

Beetge is serving an eight-year jail term in Brazil after she was convicted of drug trafficking in 2008.

She was recruited by Cwele and her co-accused, Nigerian national Frank Nabolisa, as a drug mule.

Meanwhile, ANC councillor Wandile Mkhize said that the ruling party should send a strong message to public servants.

“They must remember that to work for the government is the highest honour awarded to an individual,” said Mkhize.

“They are not here just to serve the community. Their actions as individuals are reflective of the government.

“They need to treat those positions with respect and humility.”

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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