Nontobeko Memela, the Tshwane group head of human settlements, has been on suspension with full pay for a year for alleged financial misconduct, despite a June ruling that the City must reinstate her.
The Labour Court has now found the city to be in contempt of court for ignoring the June ruling, and ordered Memela’s reinstatement.
Outgoing acting City manager Moeketsi Ntsimane was sentenced to three months in prison – suspended on condition he reinstates Memela by the end of the week.
The court accused the City of wasting taxpayer’s money by pursuing a case against Memela that never reached a conclusion, and by paying her for a year during her suspension.
Acting Tshwane mayor Abel Tau, who has taken over after mayor Stevens Mokgalapa took special leave following a sex scandal, said the City would not stop Memela from returning to work.
He told EWN that Ntsimane has challenged the sentence and contempt of court ruling as the City was in the process of appealing the June ruling.
“He might file papers so that the court clarifies but we cannot prevent this employee from coming back to work,” Tau said.
R150K a month suspension
The Citizen reported in June that Memela had been paid for sitting at home for what was eight months at the time, as the municipality had failed to complete its internal probe into allegations of financial misconduct.
It was further reported that the City was defying the Labour Court’s ruling that her continued precautionary suspension was unlawful and must be lifted.
She was placed on a three-month suspension with her salary of R1.8 million a year (or R150,000 a month) in November 2018, pending the completion of the investigation.
Shortly afterwards, the Tshwane metro said it would appeal the ruling that Memela be reinstated, in what one City official described as an unwinnable case.
“It is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. The case is just unwinnable, they cannot keep her on ice for longer than six months. It’s just unlawful,” the official said.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Sipho Mabena)