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Shop stewards face disciplinary action

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Nehawu and the PSA believe that attempts are being made to dismiss their shop stewards at the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture for exposing chief directors who were implicated in allegations of corruption, maladministration and financial misconduct.

File picture: Danie van der Lith

THE NATIONAL Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Public Servants Association (PSA) believe that attempts are being made to dismiss their shop stewards at the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture for exposing chief directors who were implicated in allegations of corruption, maladministration and financial misconduct.

The charges against the shop stewards relate to alleged gross insubordination and gross insolence in connection with an unprotected strike that was embarked upon on November 15, where entry was made into the head of department’s offices without permission and the biometric system was bypassed.

The shop stewards were charged with disrupting a meeting involving senior managers, where “blatant and gross disregard and disrespect” were shown to the acting accounting officer.

PSA provincial manager Steve Ledibane pointed out that no steps have been taken against the implicated chief directors, even after recommendations were made to criminally charge and transfer them.

A report that was released in May/June 2023 by a task team commissioned by the Premier’s Office, investigated the irregular appointment of the director of sport and recreation as well as a R1.6 million payment made to Traffic Events Management Company to organise the Umsombomvu youth tourism and cultural festival in Norvalspont in December 2016 that never took place.

Ledibane highlighted that none of the recommendations contained in the Public Service Commission and Public Protector’s reports or by the task team set up by the Premier’s Office have been implemented.

“Instead, blame is being shifted onto our shop stewards to draw attention away from the implicated officials. The only action taken was to place the officials on special leave pending an investigation. Whistle-blowers have instead been charged, with the aim of dismissing them for exposing the officials’ misdemeanours.”

Nehawu provincial secretary Moleme Moleme added that shop stewards were being victimised on invalid charges.

“This response of the department demonstrates how difficult it is to ensure clean governance where authorities abuse their powers. We will defend our members to the bitter end.”

Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture spokesperson Conrad Fortune said that no charges had been brought against the shop stewards.

“An investigation report will determine if there’s any prima facie case or evidence to discipline them. No shop stewards are being victimised. The issues are not related, hence we are awaiting a conclusive report on the allegations of the incident.

“There are no whistle-blowers that the department is aware of.”

Fortune indicated that the task team was awaiting a legal opinion to give a directive regarding the report that was commissioned by the Premier’s Office.

“Legislative implications are a core delay because of the time frame in terms of prescription law. Some of the timelines have been met, while we are waiting for a legal opinion on others.”

Fortune stated that any decision to criminally charge any official or recoup funds would be guided by legal opinion.

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