A controversial former municipal manager in Mpumalanga’s capital city, Mbombela, has been given a R1,5 million golden handshake two years after he was dismissed.
African Eye News Service is in possession of a copy of a confidential report adopted by the Mbombela council last week Friday behind closed doors.
Acting mayor Sibusiso Mathonsi said in the report that the municipality had “insufficient funds to cover exorbitant legal costs” to oppose former municipal manager Jacob Dladla’s labour court appeal to his 2009 dismissal. Dladla was scheduled to appeal his dismissal in the Gauteng labour court’s regional circuit in Mbombela on Tuesday.
He said they decided to approach Dladla’s legal representative for an out-of-court settlement as the municipality might end have ended up paying up to R13 million in legal costs.
“The representative agreed regarding the settlement option on the basis that the settlement amount covers salary costs to the value equivalent to the period between the dismissal which is December 2009 and 30 September 2011 which calculated to R2,1 million,” reads the report. “After lengthy negotiations we settled (for R1,5 million).”
Mathonsi said after discussions Dladla’s representative was prepared to settle for a salary payment of R820 000, payment of leave days and some of his legal costs.
Democratic Alliance (DA) councillors opposed the settlement but were outvoted by the ANC.
“We tried to defer the matter but the ANC refused. We wanted to refer it to the Public Protector, but again it was refused. If this decision turns out to be wrong and there are financial implications, councillors may be held personally responsible,” said DA councillor in Mbombela Jo Koster on Tuesday.
When approached for comment, Mathonsi refused to comment the council decision.
Approached for comment on Tuesday mayor Cathy Dlamini replied in an SMS, saying: “Thanks for the interest on this matter, please call Mr. Joseph Ngala.”
Ngala said the municipality was saving money as they had already spent more than R4 million in legal fees against Dladla.
“We have withdrawn all charges against Dladla and the founding of the disciplinary hearing is also nullified. If we proceeded with the matter we could have been stuck in court for another two to three years,” said Ngala.
Dladla referred questions to his lawyer Sandile July at Werksmans Attorneys.
“We can’t comment on this matter at this stage,” said July.
Dladla was dismissed on December 10 2009.
His dismissal related to irregulaties surrounding preparations for the 2010 World Cup, the building of the Mbombela stadium and Dladla’s refusal to implement 361 council resolutions.
Jimmy Mohlala, speaker at the time, was scheduled to testify against Dladla but was killed at his home in KaNyamazane only a week before his scheduled testimony.
As early as April 2008 forensic investigators from Ngobe-Nkosi Attorneys recommended that Dladla be dismissed.
Dladla’s disciplinary hearing started in July 2008 and was postponed five times after which he was finally sacked.
In January 2010 Dladla approached the labour court citing he had a right to appeal his unfair dismissal.
Meanwhile, Dladla informed Mbombela in June this year not to appoint a new municipal manager while his case was still before the courts. He threatened to interdict council for planning to appoint a new municipal manager when Mbombela advertised for a new municipal manager in June 2011.
Mbombela is currently without a municipal manager after its acting municipal manager Norah Mthembu and two senior managers were demoted because they had failed to implement council resolutions aiming to strengthen financial management.
This came after eight Mbombela employees implicated in the disappearance of R2,7 million from the council employees’ gratuity fund were suspended to allow a forensic investigation to be conducted.
The money was meant to be paid across to Coris Capital – a company that administers the municipality’s retirement funds.
The money had instead been fraudulently redirected into three different bank accounts, one belonging to a close corporation outside the province.
Mayor Dlamini told journalists last week that Mthembu, Mokoena and Ngobeni would be demoted to their previous positions of CFO and general manager respectively.
“The general manager of corporate services wanted to resign but we said we don’t want to conclude his resignation. If we allow that we won’t be allowed to put him through disciplinary processes,” said Dlamini.