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Joburg mayor orders reinstatement of Shadrack Sibiya's investigative powers

19 April 2022 - 20:14
Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phahlatse has intervened in the clash between city manager Floyd Brink and the city's anti-corruption head, Shadrack Sibiya, pictured.
Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phahlatse has intervened in the clash between city manager Floyd Brink and the city's anti-corruption head, Shadrack Sibiya, pictured.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has ordered the city’s manager, Floyd Brink, to reinstate urgently  Shadrack Sibiya’s investigative powers, according to a letter seen by TimesLIVE. 

Phalatse says she believes Brink misunderstood the scope of his role and he did not have the authority to strip away Sibiya’s powers.

Sibiya, who has headed the city’s anti-corruption unit for five years, was told a week ago of the intention to place him on suspension because he did not have a 'top secret' security clearance certificate. But Sibiya insists the allegations against him are defamatory.

On Tuesday, Phalatse's spokesperson Mabine Seabe said despite this, the mayor  requested Brink to reinstate Sibiya's investigative powers. 

“This is a serious matter given the role that GFIS [Group Forensics and Investigation Services] plays in fighting corruption, vetting employees and upholding the general security of the city,” said Seabe.

“The acting city manager stated in a letter that the withdrawal of the delegations does not affect the operations of GFIS, but demands that all reports and information be submitted to his office for approval,” he said.

“This goes against the independence of the unit,” said Seabe. 

City spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane was sent questions about Brink but referred TimesLIVE to Seabe, who in turn referred the queries to Brink. 
His response will be added when it has been obtained. 

The saga started on April 11 when Brink sent Sibiya a letter saying that his investigation powers were suspended, based on the findings and recommendations contained in a report titled Document Review Report, which found prima facie evidence of alleged unlawful and improper conduct.

The report accused Sibiya of failing to provide a formal authorisation from the SSA which entitled him to procure and deploy intelligence-gathering equipment within the jurisdiction of the city.

The next day, Brink informed Sibiya of a withdrawal of delegations (revoking his responsibilities) and that he could no longer single-handedly sign and approve decisions and documents.

But, Phalatse and Lerato Nage, the chair of the group audit committee (GAC) and Sibiya's direct line manager, wrote a scathing response to Brink.

“We wish to express our severe displeasure at your actions to launch an investigation and the withdrawal of delegations to the head of GFIS without consulting us. We therefore call upon you to reinstate the delegations as a matter of urgency. We also point out that our lack of response in addressing all the statements and allegations in both your letters to Mr Sibiya must not be construed as our agreement or consent on our end,” said Phalatse.

In a letter that TimesLIVE has seen, dated April 15, Phalatse and Nage said Brink illustrated a “serious misunderstanding of (his) role as the city manager and accounting officer within Johannesburg”.

Phalatse and Nage added that they wanted an external legal opinion regarding the report Brink advanced to them.

Brink hit back on April 16, saying he could not “allow the continuation of alleged acts of espionage, fraud, corruption and maladministration”.

“To the extent that you may require authorisation on how to handle this matter, kindly submit the document review report to the council, the MEC for local government, minister of police and minister of intelligence for their assistance in resolving this matter,” said Brink.

Sibiya's lawyers, Ian Levitt Attorneys, insist the report on which Brink based his allegations was defamatory and damaged Sibiya's reputation, and they demanded a public apology.

Last week, Sibiya, who is in limbo in terms of his job, denounced the notice revoking his investigation responsibilities.

Speaking exclusively to TimesLIVE, Sibiya said Brink overplayed his hand by telling him that his investigation powers were revoked.