A City Parks general worker has not received his salary since March following allegations that he did not report for duty for almost five years which he strongly denies.
Rudolph Vilakazi, who has worked for Msunduzi for 15 years, said he is accused of costing the municipality R732 937 in remuneration for a period from November 2015 to February 2020 for work allegedly not done.
He said he only found out about the investigation into his alleged perpetual absenteeism when he queried with the pay office why he did not get paid in March. “The pay office said they received an e-mail from (Petrus) Mahlaba who is heading the internal audit telling them that they should withhold my salary because I had been getting paid for years but didn’t pitch for work for five years,” said Vilakazi.
He said when he went to confront Mahlaba, the latter confirmed the investigation. “He said a whistleblower reported me but I told him that I’ve never been absent from work for even one month let alone years. I asked why my supervisor or the human resources office never raised this allegation with me.”
After failing to convince Mahlaba of his innocence, in May, Vilakazi tried his luck with Madoda Khathide, who had just been appointed as the municipal manager at the time, but again he was not successful either.
“I asked him if it was legal for anyone’s salary to be withheld without charging the person and without their having been found guilty of the crime but he just told me that another employee who faced a similar allegation as me had resigned, so I must also think about what I want to do because I’d lose my case,” said Vilakazi.
He said at that time he had not been even charged so there was not even a disciplinary hearing scheduled where he could try and defend his innocence.
He said it was only after he raised the illegality of withholding of his salary with Khathide that he was charged for the alleged misconduct for permanent absence from work, colluding with his supervisor to mark him present at work, and for going to Mahlaba’s office without an appointment.
Vilakazi said the suspension of his salary has led to him not being able to fulfil his obligation as a father as he is currently not even able to pay school fees or pay the monthly maintenance for his children’s upkeep. He also owes some of his friends money as he had to borrow from them to buy household necessities.
“It’s hard when you can’t even get your hearing so that you can defend yourself but I’m not going to resign because I know I’m not guilty,” he said.
On Friday SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) regional secretary, Linga Gcabashe, confirmed to Weekend Witness that Vilakazi still had not had a hearing as the one scheduled for July collapsed when the City’s representatives did not pitch. “We find this whole thing to be an unfair labour practice. He’s not even on suspension but he was refused entry when he tried to go back to work after lockdown in October.”
Gcabashe said Msunduzi must answer how Vilakazi was granted annual leave, was booked to work overtime on some weekends, and submitted medical certificates for when he was sick over the period he was supposedly not at work.
He said all attempts to get Msunduzi to schedule another hearing had failed and the union has now reported the matter to the administrator, Scelo Duma.
“We want him reinstated on the pay roll as this has had a very negative impact on his family. The municipality is not even contributing to his medical aid.”
Msunduzi spokesperson, Thobeka Mafumbatha did not respond to queries about the matter.