Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande’s office has confirmed that the department “has decided to take the Public Protector (PP) report under judicial review and the State Attorney has already been instructed to brief counsel to commence with the review proceeding”.
“This decision is well within the Minister’s constitutional right to challenge the PP findings or recommendations that he may not concur with or deemed not implementable,” said chief director of communications Madikwe Mabotha.
Mabotha said the minister’s decision to take the judicial review route was informed by a sound legal opinion that was solicited from independent senior counsel.
He further said the department wished to put it on record that the minister respected and held in high regard the Office of the Public Protector and had made an every effort within his power to comply with any request or deadline that was set for submission of any document deemed relevant to the investigation.
Mabotha denied allegations of undue delays in processing the matter.
“Therefore any insinuation of inordinate delays inflicted by the department or the minister to deliberately sabotage the investigations or the finalisation of the PP report as an attempt to sidestep public accountability is ill-founded.
“It must be stressed that the incident occurred prior to the function shift of colleges when these institutions still fell under the competency of provinces,” he said.
The public protector’s report, released on March 31 this year, resulted from three related complaints laid by chairpersons of Tshwane South College Workplace Forum (TSC Forum) and dismissed employees from the institution’s four campuses around the city.
The institution’s principal and deputy head were accused of harassing employees who had laid complaints of maladministration, corruption, flouting of corporate governance rules and bullying.
The then MEC for education in Gauteng, Angie Motshekga, instituted a forensic investigation through Gauteng Shared Service Centre (GSSC), which resulted in the expulsion of both the principal and the deputy.
After she was appointed education MEC, Barbary Creecy was accused of reinstating the pair “without consulting TSC Forum members”.
As part of remedial actions, the minister of education was directed to “conduct an inquiry to review the dismissals and disciplinary actions taken against the members of TSC Forum”.
The minister was instructed, as part of the inquiry, to “explore the possibility of compensating TSC Forum members that suffered prejudice as a result of dismissals and disciplinary actions”.
The minister was also ordered to institute disciplinary action against the principal, former acting principals and deputy principals of the institution after allegations of impropriety, maladministration and corruption were substained during the investigations.
The Citizen was unable to establish the reasons for the ministry of higher education taking this matter on review.
Some of those affected have been delivered into poverty, The Citizen understands.