Metro ordered to reinstate Sox with backpay

But city wants ruling reviewed and set aside

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has been ordered to reinstate former municipal official Sox Nkanjeni and pay him almost half a million rand in backpay. The South African Local Government Bargaining Council found that while Nkanjeni’s dismissal last year was procedurally fair, it was substantively unfair.

He was fired by the municipality after being found guilty in a disciplinary hearing of four charges in relation to misconduct.

But the municipality has rejected the order, saying the bargaining council erred in its findings.

City manager Johann Mettler said they had instructed lawyers to apply to the court to have the order reviewed and set aside.

A supply chain management official at the time, Nkanjeni was accused of sending confidential information about a tender to his personal e-mail address which was then forwarded to a third party.

The metro also accused Nkanjeni, 49, of using his position for personal gain in that he lived in a Bluewater Bay house rented by a person whose company was on the municipal service provider database.

Nkanjeni challenged his dismissal at the bargaining council, arguing that the information he e-mailed was not confidential and was already on the municipal website.

He argued that the e-mail recipient was not bidding for the contract and, therefore, was not unfairly advantaged by the information and that the municipality was not compromised.

A witness from his department testified on his behalf while the evidence of five witnesses for the municipality was found to either lack credibility or understanding of the department policies.

The commissioner, Malusi Mbuli, found there was no evidence to suggest that the e-mailed information was confidential.

Nkanjeni also testified that while he lived in the house, he had paid rent in cash to a friend, Justin Careson, who was a registered tenant of the property.

He argued this arrangement was because the property owners would not allow Careson to sublet the house.

Mbuli accepted Nkanjeni’s evidence. “The issue is not about whether there was a relation between the two, but the issue is what effect that relationship had on the municipality,” Mbuli wrote.

He ordered that Nkanjeni must report for duty on November 25 and that he be paid R466 275 – which is equivalent to 13 months’ pay – by November 30.

In an interview yesterday, Nkanjeni said: “I’m relieved and happy because I’m going back to doing what I was employed to do.

“I’m relieved that this matter is finally put to rest as much as it hurt my family, my friends and also my credibility within society due to the accusations labelled against me.”

Nkanjeni’s legal woes are not over.

In March, he was convicted of fraud on a different matter by the Commercial Crimes Court.

The court found him guilty of conspiring with businessman Mnyamezeli Dyala, 57, to ensure that Dyala’s company, Trade Lane Brokerage CC, was awarded a contract advertised by the municipality in March 2010.

The tender was for the supply and erection of fencing material.

He was fined R100 000 to be paid by December 1, failing which he would be imprisoned for three years.

Mettler said Nkanjeni would remain dismissed as he was found guilty of misconduct in a separate internal disciplinary enquiry.

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