My mind is boggled: Judge hits out at convicted council boss trying to wriggle out of suspension


My mind is boggled: Judge hits out at convicted council boss trying to wriggle out of suspension

Aron Hyman | 2017-02-16 16:21:39.0

Labour court judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje said Martin Pietersen’s application was mind-boggling. File photo.

Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A man who chalked up the first convictions under the Municipal Finance Management Act has now boggled a judge’s mind.

Labour court judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje said Martin Pietersen’s attempt to prevent an Eastern Cape municipality from suspending him‚ pending sentencing and possible appeals‚ was a product of “self-righteousness and narcissistic instincts”.

He added: “The nature of this [application] is mind-boggling. Whether that appeal process takes a lifetime or not is irrelevant as far as [Pietersen] is concerned‚ as his ‘right’ to the position and the salary trumps everything else‚ including the clean and smooth administration of the municipality.”

But Pietersen told TimesLive he would challenge Tlhotlhalemaje’s denial of his application and was confident he would come out on top.

“I know what I’ve done and how I’ve done it… But I don’t take it lightly when my reputation is violated‚” said Pietersen.

“Municipal managers are in the firing line because there is a perception that there is corruption in the municipalities. I’m not saying that there is not corruption‚ but you shouldn’t generalise.”

Pietersen also maintained he was not found guilty of corruption or fraud‚ and said he would “prove” to the court that he is not guilty.

Pietersen was appointed as municipal manager in September 2015 after the Camdeboo municipality‚ where he was manager‚ merged with two others to form the new Dr Beyers Naude Municipality.

In December he was found guilty by the Oudtshoorn magistrates court on five criminal charges relating to the abuse of R2 million under the Municipal Finance Management Act.

He is on suspension with full pay. Sentencing is expected next month.

Tlhotlhalemaje said it was “remarkable” that Pietersen had managed to be instated as the municipal manager of the newly formed municipality.

“Despite being plagued by a plethora of criminal charges and other allegations of misconduct‚ remarkably [he] managed to be appointed as a municipal manager in three different local municipalities‚” he said in his judgement‚ delivered in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

In the judgement‚ Tlhotlhalemaje also expressed the court’s feelings towards “well-heeled civil servants” trying to use the court to “intervene in internal disciplinary proceedings against them”.

He said: “It is apparent that in most of these cases‚ the intention of the applicants is merely to circumvent the dispute resolution procedures… or to seek reinstatement in their positions‚ even when their presence in the workplace had turned out or proved to be untenable‚” he said.

– TMG Digital/The Times

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