A director in the City of Tshwane metro has been paid for sitting at home for almost eight months as the municipality has failed to complete its internal probe into allegations of financial misconduct.
Nontobeko Memela, the metro’s director for human settlements, is yet to be reinstated despite the Labour Court ruling her continued precautionary suspension unlawful and ordering that it be lifted.
She was placed on a three-month suspension with her salary of R1.8 million a year (or R150,000 a month) last November, pending the completion of the investigation.
However, the investigation had not been completed by February and her suspension was extended by another three months.
On June 12, her suspension was again extended by another three months, with the Labour Court noting that there had been a lapse of about six months and 15 days since Memela’s initial suspension.
Judge Benita Whitcher pointed out that the effect of the municipality’s latest move was a nine-month precautionary suspension, even though a collective agreement was clear that such a suspension should not exceed six months.
The judge based the ruling on the collective agreement entered into by the unions and the South African Local Government Association, which was effective from February 2018 to January 2023.
“A suspension of nine months … is an inordinate period of time and contrary to the stated intent of the collective agreement … The restoration of normal employment status that comes with the lifting of suspension is the most complete remedy to an unlawful suspension,” she ruled.
Memela was suspended for her alleged role in the unauthorised extension of a contract for the construction of roads and storm water systems in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria.
She refused to comment on the matter, saying it was between her and the metro.
According to internal sources, the metro intends appealing the ruling, but municipal manager Moeketsi Mosola said he was in no position to confirm this as he was on sick leave.
Metro spokesperson Lindela Mashigo referred questions to acting mayoral spokesperson, Norman Mohale, who could not be reached for comment.