- A senior Limpopo government official has been reinstated after blowing the whistle on corruption.
- The official was placed on suspension after calling out a R500 million free Wi-Fi connection scandal.
- The General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council found the suspension was unjustified.
The Office of the Premier in Limpopo committed unfair labour practice by keeping a senior official on prolonged suspension after he blew the whistle on a R500 million free Wi-Fi connection scandal.
This was the ruling by the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council, which also found the suspension was unjustified.
The free Wi-Fi connection project was to be rolled out in several areas in the province through a company known as Limpopo Connexion. However, it stalled after money disappeared from public coffers.
The whistle blower, Leseja Mathiba who is the chief director for provincial information and technology, was placed on suspension on 18 October 2019.
Council commissioner PC Mabitsela ordered the suspension to be lifted with immediate effect and that Mathiba be reinstated to his former position.
However, Mabitsela rejected a plea by Mathiba for financial compensation.
Evidence was led at the council that no disciplinary action was taken within 60 days as per the employer disciplinary code and procedure.
A circular by Public Service Commission chairperson George Mashamba to Premier Stan Mathabatha and all MECs to lift the suspensions of all employees, which are beyond 60 days unless such extensions were decided by chairpersons of (disciplinary) hearings, was ignored.
Mathiba's witness, Emmanuel Mudau who is the deputy director for integrity and security management, told the council he was sent two different addresses to deliver a notice to him on 14 December 2019 and 20 February 2020.
On this, Mabitsela said: "The respondent's messenger, Mr Emmanuel Mudau, holds a management position. It is expected of him to know the process very well, upon his visits to [an address in Seshego] to deliver the notice, he was supposed to leave the documents for the applicant at the address as it appears as his domicilium citandi at executandi.
"The respondent did not give reasons as to why waited for two months to send the messenger to the applicant's current address as they do have both addresses. This proves lack of responsibility on the side of the respondent."
The premier's spokesperson, Willy Mosoma, told News24: "Kindly note that we received the award which was in favour of the applicant. Mr Mathiba is expected to be on duty since the office decided not to review the award.
"On the suspension, the office remains convinced that the delay was caused by Mr Mathiba since his whereabouts were not known until his salary was terminated and he resurfaced."
Mathiba said he welcomed the arbitration award with "a mixed bag of feeling".
"The issue here was not about compensation but reinstatement. We will deal with the compensation issue at the next level," he added.