Dept seniors face axe

2020-01-23 15:01
Nokuthula Khanyile, who was forced to vacate her job as Social Department provincial head. PHOTO: file

Nokuthula Khanyile, who was forced to vacate her job as Social Department provincial head. PHOTO: file

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In a dramatic twist of events, KZN Social Development Department managers who last year hounded the department’s head, Nokuthula Khanyile, out of her job, accusing her of graft, are now themselves facing the axe.

Sources within the department told The Witness that more than five managers were being suspended after internal investigations had implicated them in maladministration and corruption involving millions of rands.

“When Khanyile was eventually removed they thought that they had finally managed to block the implementation of the recommendation of the forensic report calling for disciplinary measures against them.

“They didn’t know that the recommendation will be implemented regardless of whether Khanyile was still at the helm,” a senior official at the department said.

The Witness is in possession of internal department documents showing that at least five senior managers were on the verge of being suspended for, among other things, colluding with non-profit organisations (NPOs) to defraud the department.

The managers had also used social media to brand Khanyile as a corrupt leader who had used her position to enrich those close to her while bullying those reporting to her. There were celebrations amongst the managers when Khanyile, who has since been shifted to the Premier’s Office, was replaced by the current acting head, Sbu Ngubane.

However, it now appears that Ngubane did not waste time in implementing the recommendations contained in internal investigation reports, with the department’s director of Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable livelihood, Zamo Mchunu, and the unit’s assistant director, Nontando Ngcobo, already placed on suspension.

Mchunu and Ngcobo have been accused of failing to alert the department’s top brass to corruption committed by service providers within the department’s multi-million rand nutrition programme.

Over the years the department has pumped millions of rands into the programme, whose objective was to feed the poor and people displaced by natural disasters. The suspensions come weeks after Khanyile, who during her tenure as department head had initiated a number of investigations into corruption and maladministration, was transferred to the Premier’s Department.

The managers are, among other things, accused of mobilising NPOs funded by the department to stage protests against Khanyile to force her out and block disciplinary processes against them.

Social Development provincial spokesperson Mhlaba Memela yesterday confirmed that the department had instituted disciplinary processes against some managers. “The suspensions flow from a number of investigations which the department had been conducting in recent months,” he said.

He did not rule out further suspensions.

“Certainly, if there is a recommendation saying that disciplinary steps should be taken against certain people, then that will definitely be done,” he said.

The Witness has reliably been informed that Mchunu and Ngcobo were challenging their suspension on the basis that Ngubane had failed to provide them with a copy of the forensic report recommending their suspension.

However, Memela said they will be provided with the full details pertaining to the charges against them once the disciplinary hearings commence. “I can confirm that the department complied with all legal requirements when it placed the implicated officials on precautionary suspension.”

Under Khanyile, the department, alongside the Provincial Treasury, was the only one in the entire province to receive a clean audit from the auditor-general in the 2018/19 financial year.

Premier Sihle Zikalala has since launched a separate investigation that will look into circumstances that led to Khan­yile being forced out of her job.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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