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Sakhiseni Nxumalo
Senior journalist
2 minute read
24 May 2022
06:24

KZN’s Newcastle Municipality suspends acting municipal manager again

Sakhiseni Nxumalo

Newcastle Municipality has again suspended the acting municipal manager, Vish Govender, despite his victory at the Labour Court on his first suspension.

Newcastle Municipality has again suspended the acting municipal manager, Vish Govender, despite his victory at the Labour Court on his first suspension.

In January, Govender was served with a letter advising him that his appointment as acting municipal manager had been terminated with immediate effect.

The council cited “serious allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration” as the reasons behind Govender’s suspension, which he denied.

The dispute ended up in the Labour Court where it was ruled, on May 6, that Govender’s suspension was unlawful.

The court ordered that he be reinstated to his position.

Govender sought the court to review and set aside a decision by the municipality because it failed to comply with its mandatory and material statutory obligations — being lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.

However, a few weeks after his court victory, the acting municipal manager is said to have been suspended again.

According to the sources within the municipality, it is alleged that Govender’s suspension came after he allegedly acquired municipal land that was disposed of through an auction.

The source said the municipality alleged that Govender used his position in the municipality and used other people to buy the land on his behalf.

The source said: 

“They also said that he [Govender] did not follow all the right processes in hiring mobile toilets and he also appointed a service provider that he receives some monthly payment from.”

“Those were the initial allegations, but after the court ruling which went in his favour, I am not sure why they suspended him. Some say this might be politically motivated,” they added.

According to the Labour Court’s Judge Benita Whitcher, Govender’s written representations, which he submitted, were not tabled before council so they were not considered by the municipal leadership.

Whitcher said if council had done so, it would have concluded that there was no need to place him on suspension.

She said the council also failed to inform Govender of the reasons for his suspension.

The judgement reads: 

“Despite Govender’s clear averment in his founding affidavit that the representations were not tabled and considered by council, the first respondent [Newcastle Municipality] failed to explain this.”

The municipality was also ordered to pay the legal cost.

The Witness approached Govender for comment and he confirmed that he was suspended.

However, he said due to the terms of his suspension he could not comment further on the matter, stating that he was still waiting for the disciplinary hearing processes to finish.

A list of questions were sent to the Newcastle Municipality, however, no response was received at the time of publication.