17 June 2019

South Africa: Blue-Light Report - Mkhwebane Stands By Her Findings After Union Backlash

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) has a right to approach the courts for a review of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report on suspended secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana, her the office told News24.

The Cosatu-affiliated union is not impressed with Mkhwebane's findings on Mgidlana. The union, along with parliament's deputy security chief Motlatsi Mokgatla, had brought complaints against Mgidlana.

According to the Sunday Times, Mkhwebane found against Mgidlana on three complaints and cleared him on the rest. Among the complaints were Mgidlana's misuse of blue lights, which Mkhwebane, in her report, said she could not find against the secretary.

In the report, the Public Protector states that protection officers were distancing themselves from the allegations. Now the union is questioning how she was able to reach such a finding on blue lights without approaching it to corroborate its claims against Mgidlana.

However, Mkhwebane's spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said a progress report, which covered aspects identified for the investigation was sent to the union with an invite that they comment, but they never did.

"It is their right to approach the court for a review. They were invited to comment on the report and raise whatever issue they wanted to. But they did not bother at all to respond," he said.

Segalwe added that Nehawu also did not bring forward to Mkhwebane's attention any information it had to help supplement its initial complaints.

Other allegations Nehawu had levelled against Mgidlana ranged from his alleged use of public funds to pay for his spouse's travel costs to official functions and the alleged ex-ratia payment totaling R71 000 he had apparently made to himself, News24 sister publication City Press reported earlier in June.

The report also stated that in her report, the Public Protector found that Mgidlana did misuse and abuse official vehicles and so contravened the reviewed policy on travel, accommodation and subsistence and travel allowance of 2009.

Source: News24

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