Legal bid to stop disciplinary hearing against Amatola Water boss fails

OUT OF A JOB? Vuyo Zitumane, the suspended CEO of the Eastern Cape utility Amatola Water

From TimesLIVE

Mpumzi Zuzile

Efforts by an East London-based legal firm to stop the disciplinary hearing of suspended Amatola Water CEO Vuyo Zitumane failed in the East London high court on Tuesday.

Zitumane was placed on cautionary suspension after an investigation commissioned by water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu this year.

“Amatola Water welcomes the Eastern Cape high court judgment on the matter between Mayedwa Attorneys and Amatola Water,” Amatola Water spokesperson Nosisa Sogayise said.

“Amatola Water agrees with the judgment that the application by Mayedwa Attorneys to interdict the disciplinary proceedings against suspended Zitumane, pending their review application of alleged termination of their contract, is not urgent and was dismissed with costs.”

Sogayise said the water entity agreed with the judge that there were no grounds to grant an urgent interdict to Mayedwa as there is no harm to be endured by the applicant if her matter is dealt with later.

“There is, however, prejudice to the other parties if the interdict is granted and the disciplinary hearings are delayed,” she said.

Sogayise said it was the entity’s view that the court application was yet another tactic to delay the commencement of the disciplinary hearings against the suspended CEO.

“As the board, we are satisfied that the courts decided not to impose on the powers of the board in its dealings with its employees,” she said.

“The Amatola board wants a stable and well-led entity that discharges its duties with effectiveness and efficiency, free of corruption — as per the expectation of the department and minister.”

Nolubabalo Mayedwa of Mayedwa Attorneys refused to comment when contacted by TimesLIVE.

Zitumane’s lawyer Java Mama said: “The high court decision was and is not on Mrs Zitumane. She was no party to the litigation. She even filed an affidavit, well before the decision, to the effect that she will play no part in the litigation, and will abide by the decision of the court.”

In June, the Amatola Water board revealed it had also laid criminal charges against Zitumane, who was allegedly found by an independent investigation to have been involved in the manipulation of supply chain management processes and the awarding of tenders at inflated prices.

This comes as the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has launched investigations into the Amatola Water and Lepelle North water boards.

A letter from the AFU’s deputy national director of public prosecutions Knorx Molelle to Sisulu’s office, dated August 20 2020, states that the investigating unit is working with other law-enforcement agencies to investigate allegations relating to irregularities, maladministration and other related unlawfulness at both Lepelle and Amatola.

Sogayise said they had been made aware of the AFU investigation, adding that the AFU was still carrying out the investigation and had not yet submitted further information to the institution.

TimesLIVE

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