Court blocks ‘radical’ thugs

2018-10-23 15:30

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Provincial Treasury has turned to the high court to protect all its employees, contractors and consultants from the bullying tactics of two business forums behind a recent hostage drama at Natalia.

Members of the forums have intimidated and threatened members of a team appointed to investigate financial instability and mismanagement in the health services.

One woman in the team has even received death threats and a tyre on her car was slashed.

Finance MEC Belinda Scott obtained a temporary interdict against the Ama Delangokubona Business Forum, and the Federation for Radical Economic Transformation (FFRET) and its leader Malusi Zondi.

In terms of the interdict, they are prevented from threatening, interfering, intimidating or assaulting officials from Treasury, its employees, contractors, sub-contractors or anyone else acting on Treasury’s behalf. In addition, they have also been prevented from unlawfully entering Natalia, Treasury House, Trizon Towers, Nomalanga Building and the Old Boys Building.

The forums have till November 9 to reply to the allegations against them.

In court papers Scott said their actions have impacted on the Health Department’s ability to provide health care services to the most vulnerable members of the community.

The team has been deployed to the department’s numerous offices to come up with appropriate steps to address a “serious, persistent and material breach” of the Public Finance Management Act.

It was established last year.

“There have since been acts of intimidation against all members of the intervention team,” she said.

The team is made up of independent consultants who work closely with officials from Treasury’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) unit. Its duties include assisting in the acquisition function, with special focus on the department’s backlog in tenders and month- to-month contract extensions.

Scott revealed that one of the team members had her car tyre slashed and also received a threatening phone call saying, “Don’t show your face at Treasury or Health, we are watching you and your family”.

Scott spoke about the incident on September 6 (which The Witness reported at the time), when the team and department officials were held hostage for two-and-a-half hours by the forums’ members.

Scott said about 40 members made their way to the 11th floor of Natalia, where a meeting was taking place between the team and the officials.

The members stormed the boardroom and screamed, banged on tables and climbed onto the boardroom table. They demanded to be shown two team members.

Zondi had said he represents FFRET.

He was “abusive, racist and threatening” towards them.

Scott said he accused them of “manipulating tendering processes in order to benefit Indian-owned companies at the expense of Black African-owned companies” and of suspending a department SCM employee who had previously given business to Black African companies. The group demanded the acting head of Health reinstate the employee and he was forced under duress to draft and sign a letter reinstating the employee.

She added the group took photographs and made video recordings of the team members, which emerged on social media. “The conduct places the lives of the team and family members at grave danger as their faces are now known all over social media … the members and their families are now in constant fear,” said Scott.

She also spoke about how tense and frightening the events were that day and how police were outnumbered and could not do anything to “defuse the situation”.

Scott said that if the interdict was not granted there was a likelihood the members would return to cause harm and injury to the intervention team.

This would “derail service delivery and the provision of health services and cause irreparable harm to the most vulnerable members” of the province who can’t afford private medical health care.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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