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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Legal debate ensues over dismissal of former JRA boss

Former JRA CEO, Tshepo Mahanuke, filed an urgent application challenging the fairness and legality of his dismissal.

Former CEO of the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) Tshepo Mahanuke yesterday lodged an urgent application at the Labour Court in Joburg, sparking a legal argument over whether his dismissal last month followed an unfair or unlawful process.

After presiding over the hearing, with counsels for Mahanuke and the JRA arguing over whether his dismissal constituted a fair or legally-flawed process, Judge Zolashe Lallie reserved judgment.

Said advocate Patrick Ngutshane for Mahanuke:

“In looking at processes followed by respondents (JRA and JRA board) in dismissing the applicant, what has come out clearly is that their procedure was unlawful.

“In his notice of motion and founding affidavit, the applicant has shown how he was subjected to illegal processes by the employer – a case not located within the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

“The applicant was not allowed by the employer to make his view, due to him not participating in an unlawful process.”

Advocate Byron Morris (for the JRA) said Mahanuke’s argument should be based on the unfairness of the process – “not it being unlawful”.

He said: “We should be talking about the matter being unfair and not unlawful, because it did not go through conciliation at the CCMA or bargaining council, before reaching the Labour Court.

“Hence I am saying it is neither urgent nor being argued in the right jurisdiction,” said Morris.

In a replying affidavit seen by The Citizen – rubbishing claims that his qualifications were dubious – Mahanuke argued:

“Allegations on the Majang Attorneys findings expose the limitation of the law firm’s competency to apprehend the basic analytical processes required for this type of investigation.

“There is completely no misrepresentation of qualifications – not even correctly described by the deponent, as well as Majang.

“To assist the deponent to the answering affidavit, a description of the level of the course, is determined by the letter or number, which appears at the end of its description.

“It must either be a I, II or III – the figure or number appearing on my CV, which is descriptive of the level of the course.

“Majang admitted that they did not understand all the description of the course – and yet they went on to form an opinion on something they admitted they did not understand.

“These are no facts but opinions. Majang’s opinions throughout the entirety of the report, are simply not evidence contrary to what the respondents now contend for.

“There is also nowhere that I have claimed that the qualifications were from Harvard (University) and the information appears from the Majang report.”

Before being appointed JRA CEO, Mahanuke said he went through a rigorous process.

“My work experience and qualifications were investigated by the respondents prior to my employment. Upon being satisfied, they (JRA board members) proceeded to make the appointment.

“I have never during my interview process or in any of my interactions with the respondents, misrepresented my qualifications or work experience.

“The Majang report missed a whole step and jumped into baseless – based on limited items and an understanding that it had considered.”

Mahanuke said – despite pleading that the dismissal was unlawful – “the respondents, somehow seem to believe that I have raised or challenged an unfair termination matter”.

“What they (respondents) miss, is that the application is not based on the mere fact that I have been dismissed in breach of a contract of employment, rather that I also challenge the right of the second respondent to terminate the contract unlawfully,” he explained.