Richard Bosman guilty of 'less serious' offence over appointment

2019-01-31 22:36

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The Cape Town City Council resolved behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon that the City's executive director of safety and security Richard Bosman was guilty of a "less serious" offence for his appointment of Robbie Robberts as Director for Policing and Law Enforcement.

This comes after Bosman admitted to investigators that he was put under "political pressure" to appoint Robberts. 

The investigation was the result of a meeting in November last year, which was also closed, where the council resolved to have the matter probed after the City manager received a call from a member of the public about "serious allegations" against Bosman and his role in the appointment.

Robberts started in his post on August 2, 2015, after a distinguished career in the South African Police Service.

Discussions

However, an e-mail trail revealed that Robberts was in discussions with Bosman and mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith months before the appointment and that there was also a meeting in the office of then mayor Patricia de Lille.

Investigators Gavin Stansfield and Samiksha Singh of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, found that, while neither Bosman nor Smith confirmed with certainty that Robberts was guaranteed an appointment, it was evident from the e-mail correspondence that Smith and Robberts engaged in correspondence about the post before January 28, 2015. 

They also found that there was formal correspondence between Smith, Robberts and Bosman about a position that did not exist in the City's organisational structure and that roleplayers such as De Lille, former City manager Achmat Ebrahim and Mzwandile Petros, the former provincial police commissioner, were involved in "advanced and detailed discussions" with Robberts prior to the creation of the position. 

"The wording of the e-mails indicates that Robberts was in fact offered the position and the process to be followed was to simply create the position whereafter he would sign the relevant documentation and be appointed to the position," the report reads.

"Bosman confirmed in writing that there was no intention not to honour the commitments made to Robberts.

The report states that it is "highly irregular that discussions would be held with a prospective candidate prior to a position being created and advertised".

Although 41 people applied for the post, Robberts was the only one shortlisted. 

"Furthermore, it is concerning that Bosman failed to adhere to the policy in relation to shortlisting as he determined the shortlist in the absence of consultation with Human Resources," the report states.

Under pressure

In his interview with the investigators, Bosman denied that he was instructed to appoint Robberts, but admitted that he was under pressure. 

Investigator Stansfield asked: "Where was the pressure coming from?"

Bosman answered: Politically, more than anything else."

Stansfield asked if he was prepared to go further than that, and Bosman said: "Not at this stage."

Bosman also admitted that he should have done a better job with the shortlisting, but also said Robberts was the only suitable candidate. 

"In relation to the averment by Bosman that there was political pressure in relation to the appointment of Robberts, it is evident that a fair, transparent and competitive process was not envisaged in relation to the appointment prior to the process having commenced," reads the report.

"We are accordingly of the view that the process followed in relation to the appointment of Robberts was defective, irregular and inconsistent with the principles of the policy."

The investigators found that Bosman breached the code of conduct by "giving effect to an appointment that was determined prior to a position having been created and advertised and which, on his own version, was the result of so-called 'political pressure'."

In his interview with the investigators, Smith emphasised that Robberts was not brought under the impression that his appointment would be a foregone conclusion or that he would be appointed, he had merely been encouraged to apply.

Smith also said the correspondence with Robberts was because he had been trying to ascertain whether it would be viable for him to apply for the post. 

Smith also denied Robberts was informed that he would be the successful candidate and start employment at a certain date and referred to Robberts' supposed difficulty with English.

Salary, pension discussions

However, in his interview with the investigators, Robberts stated that the start date, salary and pension was discussed at the meeting with De Lille and that he was informed that a process needed to be followed and that certain paperwork needed to be attended to. 

He stated that he was not provided with a guarantee that he would get the position, but was brought under the impression that he was the preferred candidate.

Robberts also said he was honoured by the way in which he was approached for the position and was under the impression that he would be the only candidate shortlisted.

The report also recommended that the speaker investigates Smith's role in Robberts' appointment, but this recommendation wasn't put to the council. 

It appeared that the closed discussion of the report became heated during Thursday's session of the City council meeting. 

Declassified

Towards the end, ANC councillors chanted and drummed with their hands on their desks, EFF councillors left before the vote took place and DA councillors cheered and applauded thereafter. 

Speaker Dirk Smit confirmed that the council resolved that the allegation against Bosman is "less serious", which means that he could receive sanctions such as a reprimand, verbal warning, written warning or final written warning, or be instructed to take a rehabilitative course. 

Smit also confirmed that the report had been declassified.

Read more on:    richard bosman
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