Tony Taverna-Turisan, spokesperson for the Johannesburg executive mayor, has confirmed “two senior officials of the city have been placed on suspension following a closed council meeting, and an independent full investigation will be conducted to assist the council in making a final decision”.
Taverna-Turisan said the two officials were given seven days to give reasons why they should not be suspended before the closed council meeting, where a decision to do so was taken.
The Citizen understands that City of Johannesburg ombudsman Advocate S’duduzo Gumede and a group executive director for Group Corporate and Shared Services were suspended after an alleged tip-off. Randburg Sun reported that a source within the council informed them of these details.
The ombudsman is an independent unit within the city tasked with resolving disputes between the city and its residents and ratepayers. Group Corporate and Shared Services, on the other hand, is the administrative arm of the council tasked with managing IT, human resources, labour relations etc.
The caucus spokesperson for ANC caucus in the council, Jolidee Matongo, told the publication that, together with the Independent Congress (AIC) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA), they did not support the council’s recommendation that the officials’ response be rejected.
The ANC, however, sad it would not stand in the way of an investigation or disciplinary measures, as long as they were transparent and investigated independently.
The city’s secretary of council had allegedly also been moved to the ombudsman’s office. Matongo said that was apparently due to “a breakdown in relations between him and the legislature”.
“We said in council that we do not support the witch-hunt against senior managers appointed by the previous ANC administration,” Matongo said.
Asked if that was not an indication that these appointments were political, Matongo disagreed.
“The positions were advertised in newspapers, and a panel consisting of the City manager, the political head of the department and an independent expert [among others] made the decision. One can’t say it is a political appointment.”
Upon assuming office, the DA mayor, Herman Mashaba, made it known that his number one priority would be rooting out corruption with the council and administration.