A Senior Director at Mangosuthu University of Technology has taken the MUT to the Durban Labour Court over his precautionary suspension after he allegedly questioned “dubious” payments concerning an R99million security tender to be awarded.
Lwazi Mthimkhulu, an acting senior director in the human resource and development department, was placed on precautionary suspension recently by the university’s vice-chancellor and principal, Enoch Malaza, on allegations of payroll irregularities.
Mthimkhulu, who has been in an acting position since January, challenged his suspension at the court.
In the court papers, he claimed that he was being targeted because he questioned some “dubious” payments in the university’s payroll.
He said within two months of acting in the position he discovered “horrifying acts of corruption and fraud in the procurement of security services”.
The Sunday Tribune understands that MUT was in the process of awarding a lucrative security contract valued at R99m for the next three years.
Mthimkhulu alleged that he informed Malaza on his reply to the notice of suspension of a protected disclosure which he made to his line manager to the demand of R700000 kickback from a service provider in exchange for the R99m security contract.
He said the request for a kickback was made to a security service provider by one of the senior directors in the operations department.
“I have further information which it is alleged that the senior director was changing bid scores to suit the specifications of a certain security company.
“I, therefore, believe that my disclosure to the line manager resulted in the vindictive conduct of the institution,” he said in the court papers.
Mthimkhulu also questioned the manner in which his suspension was handled. He said he was given an hour to respond to the notice of suspension and the chancellor sent two security guards to his home to deliver the suspension letter as the country is on lockdown.
He stated that he was suspended even though there was no clarification on the nature of the payroll irregularities that he was alleged to have committed. He said his duties had nothing to do with the payroll system.
In the suspension letter seen by the Sunday Tribune, there were no details about the charges against Mthimkhulu. He was barred from entering the university’s premises but will receive his full salary without any of the allowances.
Questioned about the charges, Malaza said Mthimkhulu was being put on a precautionary suspension pending a full investigation based on an audit trail revealing that he benefited financially from irregular transactions on the university’s payroll system in the period January to March 2020.
“This irregular transaction happened in the department headed by Mthimkhulu. This precautionary suspension is based on these regularities and nothing else. The precautionary suspension is to allow the university to investigate without possible interference from Mthimkhulu,” he said.
Malaza would not respond to the fraud allegation in relation to a security tender made by Mthimkhulu in the court papers.
Mthimkhulu, when contacted, did not want to comment.
The labour court ordered MUT to pay Mthimkhulu’s salary and allowances he is entitled to for the entire suspension period.
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Source: SUNDAY TRIBUNE