Sacked town boss vows to fight dismissal tooth and nail
Ingquza Hill municipality manager Mluleki Fihlani, who was fired last week for a litany of transgressions, has vowed to fight his axing to the bitter end, saying his sacking was unlawful.
Fihlani says the guilty verdict on the 10 charges he was slapped with were taken without him being afforded a fair disciplinary hearing.
However, mayor Bambezakhe Goya told the Dispatch in July that Fihlani had been given ample time to present himself to the disciplinary hearing, but continuously asked for documents not readily available — a move that had led to a protracted hearing.
The council resolved to fire Fihlani last week after independent prosecutor Bheki Mhlongo was roped in to chair the disciplinary hearing.
Fihlani confirmed his dismissal but vowed not to take it lying down.
“I was dismissed, yes. As far as I know, there was never a disciplinary hearing because the disciplinary hearing was supposed to be on June 14 2019.
“That disciplinary hearing was interdicted because the municipality wanted to force the disciplinary hearing without giving me the documentation I had asked for to prepare for the trial.
“I obtained a court order that interdicted that particular hearing. Since then, there has never been a hearing,” he said.
Fihlani said his lawyers had called the municipal lawyers to set another hearing.
“Instead the municipality said they wanted to settle,” he said.
The Dispatch reported in July that the council had resolved to settle out of court with Fihlani in what Goya said was an attempt to save taxpayers' money from a drawn-out legal battle.
Fihlani said when he returned to work on May 25, “to my surprise I was given a document which purported to be the findings of a hearing on June 14 2019”.
“Those findings were not sent to my attorneys or me. The so-called chair of the hearing issued the verdict on June 9 . That was unlawful and I took it to the high court. I am challenging it and I am waiting for that,” he said.
Fihlani hopes the Mthatha high court will now rule in his favour. At the time of writing on Monday, it could not be established when the matter will be heard in court.
Among the offences Fihlani was found guilty of were:
- Instructing municipal employees to use municipal vehicles to transport him for his private purposes;
- Appointing two municipal employees as his bodyguards without council resolution;
- Paying a service provider R1.2m hours after he was suspended in February 2019;
- Instructing municipal employees in 2016 to demolish houses in New Rest without a court order; and
- Failing to submit certified copies of his qualifications.
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