Nkandla ‘fall guy’ sick of postponements in disciplinary hearing

07 August 2017 - 17:22 By Yasantha Naidoo
Gavel on the auction block. File photo.
Gavel on the auction block. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The disciplinary hearing for senior public works official Sibusio Chonco‚ who is implicated in the controversial R246-million upgrade of President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla residence‚ was set down for Monday and Tuesday.

However‚ it is understood that the public works' legal representative Advocate Mduduzi Kulati as well as witnesses from the Special Investigating Unit who were scheduled to give evidence against Chonco‚ were not informed that the hearing would not go ahead.

A guard at the public works office in Durban said that only a few people arrived for the hearing on Monday morning and left shortly after they realised the matter had been postponed.

A source close to the hearing said it was understood that a public works official had informed certain individuals that the hearing would be postponed and that Kulati had allegedly been removed as the department's legal representative. The venue had also been cancelled.

Last month‚ the hearing was postponed‚ a few hours after the Special Investigating Unit's chief forensic investigator Mariette Amanda Dreyer gave evidence against Chonco‚ the first of the 10 officials to face the music over the Nkandla upgrades. At the time‚ Kulati asked for the hearing to be adjourned when public works chief director for legal service Barnie Ntlou made a "surprise appearance".

After consulting with Ntlou‚ Kulati asked hearing chairman advocate Thulani Khuzwayo to postpone the matter as a number of "critical issues" had been raised "regarding the way we were proceeding with the matter". It is understood that these issues were again raised in a recent email to Kulati.

Kulati said he couldn't comment on Monday's postponement.

The hearings have been characterised by a series of postponements.

In the last two months‚ proceedings against Jayshree Pardesi‚ the Pretoria-based national director of key accounts management‚ as well as Rakesh Dhaniram‚ another key accounts director‚ were also postponed.

Claude Naiker‚ Public Servants Association KwaZulu-Natal manager‚ said he wasn't aware that Kulati had been withdrawn as the legal representative. "We are aware that the matter was postponed because of ongoing negotiations around a settlement as well as amendments that have yet to be made on the charge sheet."

Naiker said the PSA was extremely concerned about the impact that the ongoing postponements were having on the employees. He said they had proposed the possibility of settlements and combining all the cases against the employees to expedite the matter‚ but the department wasn't agreeable to this option. He said Chonco's family expressed their frustration at the delay in proceedings again on Monday and said that the strain was making him sick.

In April Chonco's legal representative requested his client's hearing be postponed citing medical reasons.

"All the employees are taking strain and wanted this matter settled but this is not the case."

The department of public works didn't respond to queries.