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Two Robben Island Museum officials to face disciplinary action after probe into allegations of mismanagement

06 June 2021 - 17:24 By belinda pheto
An independent investigation into mismanagement allegations at the Robben Island has recommended that two officials undergo a disciplinary hearing.
An independent investigation into mismanagement allegations at the Robben Island has recommended that two officials undergo a disciplinary hearing.
Image: 123RF/mdmworks

An independent probe has recommended that two staff members of the Robben Island Museum (RIM) face a disciplinary hearing. The independent investigation was launched to probe allegations of mismanagement at the museum, including financial mismanagement. 

The report said there was is a prima facie case for disciplinary action against two RIM officials. 

In a statement, the chairperson for the museum council, Khensani Maluleke confirmed that the state attorney has appointed someone to chair the disciplinary inquiry and that arrangements are being made the an internal disciplinary process within the next few weeks. 

Maluleke said the investigation was instituted by the state attorney who appointed MacRobert Attorneys to assess and investigate the allegations and provide the RIM council with “a written report of legal advice as to whether there are any prima facie grounds to take steps, disciplinary or otherwise, against any official of RIM”. 

In April, the Sunday Times reported that the museum faced financial troubles that went way beyond Covid-19 and were linked to irregularities listed in a forensic investigation by chartered accountants Morar Incorporated, which recommended disciplinary action against museum CEO Mava Dada for breach of contract.

Despite the findings, Dada remained in his R2.4m-a-year job, while “disciplinary processes are under way”.

Maluleke didn’t name the two officials who will face disciplinary action.

“Due to the ongoing disciplinary process and out of respect for the RIM employees concerned, potential witnesses and the integrity of the disciplinary process as a whole, no further information can responsibly be provided at this stage. We remain committed to transparency and the finalisation of the disciplinary process and/or any other legal proceedings relating thereto, and as such the outcomes thereof will be made public in the form of an executive summary in due course,” Maluleke explained.

During the investigation, further allegations were brought to the attention of the RIM council, which resolved that the allegations fell within the scope of the terms of reference of the investigation.

Those allegations related to, among other issues:

  • audit reports revealing non-performance by the RIM human resources and supply chain management departments;
  • abnormal staff hiring;
  • nepotism;
  • poor overall performance by RIM management;
  • intellectual property theft; and
  • poor ferry operational management.  

“It was always the intention of the RIM council to make the findings of the report and the resultant actions public. In terms of the additional allegations which were investigated, we are happy to report that the independent investigation found no basis for further action, as there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations. We hope that these findings will put to rest the negative narrative that has been perpetuated by certain stakeholders, and politicians,” Maluleke said. 

The report also makes recommendations to the RIM council to remedy certain shortcomings within the museum’s various departments which became apparent during the investigation. 

These recommendations include, inter alia:

  •  engaging with the relevant stakeholders to assist in providing advice and guidance;
  •  the review of policies and implementation of measures to avoid non-compliance with policies and/or legislation; and
  •  engaging the minister of sport, arts and culture, who holds the authority to take certain other and appropriate steps.  

“In this regard, the RIM council has implemented those recommendations which we believe, will place RIM in a much stronger position going forward, and ensure that it remains the world-renowned world heritage site for which it has come to be known,” Maluleke said.