Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Tuesday ordered the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government to reinstate and pay its Treasury official, Fikile Hlatshwayo-Rouget, who was elbowed out of her job for blowing the whistle on corrupt activities.
“The appropriate remedial action I’m taking … the [KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance Belinda] Scott must ensure that the complainant [Hlatshwayo-Rouget] is reinstated to her position within 30 days from the date of issuing this report, that she is paid all her monies that would have been due to her had she not been dismissed – together with interest calculated at the applicable rate,” Madonsela said in Pretoria.
The public protector also instructed Scott to ensure that Hlatshwayo-Rouget is compensated for financial losses incurred by virtue of “incidental expenses related to her dismissal within 60 days from the date of issuing this report”.
A letter of apology regarding the unfair dismissal would also be issued by the provincial authorities to Hlatshwayo-Rouget.
Madonsela was releasing her report titled “Rocking the Boat” at a media briefing on Tuesday. The report followed her investigation into allegations of abuse of power and victimisation of the whistle-blower, Hlatshwayo-Rouget by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial treasury.
Hlatshwayo-Rouget was dismissed after making protected disclosures of what she had considered irregular procurement activities with the provincial treasury. Such activities included procurement and over-payment of consultants, the funding of non-core business activities such as air shows and the Durban North Sea Jazz Festival, in which some treasury officials had undisclosed interests.
Hlatshwayo-Rouget, who was a deputy director-general responsible for finance at KZN Treasury, made the protected disclosure of the shenanigans within two weeks of her employment in 2013. The mother of two has been unemployed for the last three years since being dismissed at the KZN Treasury.
“The complainant [Hlatshwayo-Rouget] was suspended on October 30, 2013 and finally dismissed in December 2013 without any prior warning — written or verbal — and without being given an opportunity to make representations, defend herself or make amends regarding her alleged hierarchical and abrasive management style,” said Madonsela.
“The suspension and dismissal of the complainant on the basis of trivial charges was irrational, unreasonable and unfair and can justifiably be seen as a charade that sought to get her out of the way by [then KZN Finance MEC Ina] Cronje and [Head of Department Smiso] Magagula who at the time believed and chose to stand by Dr Clive Coetzee [a subordinate] whom she [Hlatshwayo-Rouget] had accused of corrupt activities – an accusation since confirmed by the Treasury commissioned forensic investigation and by the Special Investigating Unit.”
As part of her remedial action, Madonsela also ordered that the KZN premier must ensure that Scott implements the corrective measures within stipulated timelines and reports to the provincial legislature and the Public Protector on the outcomes.
– African News Agency (ANA)