Remove attorney from chairing my hearing - Hlongwane
MBABANE – SNAT Co-operative Society General Manager Ndumiso Hlongwane wants attorney Sikhumbuzo Simelane removed from chairing a disciplinary hearing held against him.
He also wants the Society and Simelane to be restrained and interdicted from proceeding with the disciplinary enquiry. In the application which was on a certificate of urgency, Hlongwane is represented by Muzi Simelane.
Hlongwane seeks an order of court directing the Society to appoint a chairperson in accordance with its procurement processes. He states in his affidavit that he is the incumbent Genera Manager (GM) of the respondent (Society).
The GM told the court that he was placed on suspension on December 9, 2011 after it was alleged that he was implicated in the procurement of a generator for the respondent’s building situated at the SNAT Building in Manzini.
"As I languished in the unfairly imposed suspension I got tired of being paid for staying at home. I requested my attorney to enquire from the first respondent (society) if there were prospects of restoring a normal working relationship or the parties should seek an amicable termination of the employment contract," Hlongwane states.
The society said it foresaw the matter of his suspension being resolved amicably. He said he was called to a meeting where he was told to submit an affidavit about the procurement of the generator. He said he was shocked by this move as he thought the report should have been sought before he was placed on suspension.
He said it was unfair to be required to file the report as he was five months into the suspension and the employer never heard his story before he was placed on suspension. He was allegedly charged and required to show cause why he should not be hauled before a disciplinary hearing.
"On June 7, 2012, I then received a notice to attend a disciplinary hearing and I was charged with three counts. The new counts were entirely different from those contained in the first respondent’s letter dated May 14, 2012," it was stated. The disciplinary hearing allegedly began on June 14 under the chairmanship of Simelane but it was postponed to June 22. This was after the society requested to amend the charges. It was also postponed to July 5, 2012. When the case resumed, an application was moved for Simelane’s recusal but he declined to recuse himself. The purpose of the application was to review such decision.
‘... he was moved from post of prosecutor to preside over case’
MBABANE – Attorney Sikhumbuzo Fakudze was allegedly shifted from being a prosecutor to preside over the case.
This was contained in Hlongwane’s application.
He said he did not doubt that Simelane acted as initiator and prosecutor for the society. "Viewed objectively, the role of the prosecutor was to secure a conviction on behalf of the employer," Hlongwane said.
He stated that there was a reasonable suspicion of bias which stemmed from the fact that Sime-lane in his prior role as the initiator or prosecutor, performed to the satisfaction of the society by securing a conviction.
There was allegedly no explanation why the society decided to shift Simelane from being prosecutor to preside. "This creates a reasonable perception of bias," Hlongwane alleged.
He further stated that the suspension was fuelled by the nature of the charges and the manner in which the whole issue of suspension had been handled by the society. "As alluded to earlier on, the charges have been changed at least three times, however relating to a single act of alleged misconduct, procurement of a generator," Hlongwane said. The case is yet to be heard in court.
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