Joburg’s Covid corruption-accused CEO Helen Botes back at work

Joburg mayor Jolidee Matongo has confirmed Helen Botes resumed her duties last week despite the Covid-19 corruption cloud hanging over her.

Corruption accused CEO of the Joburg Property Company (JPC) Helen Botes is back at work after her second suspension lapsed without a single charge being laid against her by the employer.

Botes’ return comes despite the release of a Special Investigative Unit (SIU) report which says she may be guilty of financial misconduct in her handling of a series of Covid-19 deep cleaning contracts which were expediently issued from March last year.

Johannesburg mayor Jolidee Matongo has confirmed Botes resumed her duties last week, despite the Covid-19 corruption cloud hanging over her. Matongo has told The Citizen he is disappointed that the board of directors at JPC have failed to file any charges against her, despite having suspended her for months.

“We are disappointed with ourselves as a city to say that this thing has been going on for the longest time, since July last year,” says Matongo.

“People were put on suspension and there should have been charges laid against them and the disciplinary process should have been followed and an outcome provided to us as a city. But that has not happened, despite people having been suspended and some came back and were suspended again. We have told the board not to waste any time in terms of dealing with the SIU report.”

Jolidee Matongo

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Botes was suspended along with CFO Imraan Bhamjee, following the outcomes of a forensic investigation which fingered the pair as well as other managers in alleged tender corruption related to Covid-19 contracts last year.

The SIU subsequently also made adverse findings against them, recommending action be taken in this regard by the City as well as JPC.

Despite this, most of those named in that report have since returned to work. Instead, several employees who have been calling for action against corruption accused JPC employees have been suspended over the past few months following a petition which was signed by over 20 employees and sent to the board.

New deadlines

Matongo has given the JPC board until Wednesday to appoint a legal and forensic firm to deal with the SIU report related to R19 million worth of dodgy Covid-19 contracts. He has also given the board until the end of September to finalise any action due to be taken against Botes and others implicated the report, including the institution of proper disciplinary processes.

Also Read: JPC board wants ‘corrupt’ CEO back despite SIU corruption report

“At our last mayoral committee meeting we had asked for a status report on what is happening with the CEO and CFO. They gave us a report saying that the suspension will be lapsing in a number of days and that was two weeks ago, and it was said that if it lapses she will go back to work and she cannot be turned away because her suspension has lapsed,” Matongo told The Citizen.

The current board chaired by Moeketsi Rabodila, was appointed at the end of the last one’s term earlier this year. The previous board initiated two forensic investigations into various corruption allegations which also implicated Botes.

Hitting the ground running

Botes has apparently jumped straight into action upon her return, having convened meetings with Supply Chain Management (SCM) officials at the company, according to sources close to the matter. \

Matongo says ‘its a matter of following the law’ in response to a question of whether he is concerned about employees implicated in tender fraud allegations continuing to deal with tenders.