NATIONAL NEWS - Former Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) senior financial manager, Mbulelo Ngxonono, 56, is planning to approach the Labour Appeals Court following his dismissal for approving R5.5 million in irregular expenditure on hire cars, TimeSelect reported.
The decision comes after Cape Town’s Labour Court rejected Ngxonono’s appeal on 31 January against his dismissal.
His appeal case was also rejected by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
In 2013, Ngxonono was appointed as the state-owned enterprise’s senior finance manager in Western Cape.
Prasa’s auditor-general conducted an investigation that revealed that Ngxonono extended the KE Daniels contract for the rental cars even though it had “not been approved by the regional manager or group executive officer as Prasa’s policy dictated”.
It is alleged that the KE Daniels contract continued to provide cars to Prasa, which cost an extra amount of R5.5 million, even though the original contract expired in May 2014.
Ngxonono was found guilty on 10 charges of misconduct, including gross misconduct, dereliction of duty, and insubordination, and was then dismissed in June 2016.
He reportedly disobeyed his superior’s orders to check the budget given to him before negotiating into contracts which was included in his charges during an internal disciplinary hearing.
Ngxonono first approached the CCMA to appeal his dismissal, but his case was rejected.
During the labour court case, Ngxonono told Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker that the “CCMA had been unreasonable and that Prasa had been too harsh in firing him under the circumstances”.
Ngxonono reportedly did not inform any of his plans for the short-term vehicle rentals to the Bid Evaluation Committee or the Regional Tender Procurement Committee according to his own admission.
It is alleged that he also failed to report that there had been no budget allocated for the services.
“Ngxonono failed to fulfil his role as a senior financial manager to budget for short-term vehicle rental contract,” ruled Judge Rabkin-Naicker.
Ngxonono came to his own defence claiming that Prasa’s CEO initially told him that “he did not need to budget for short-term vehicles”.
He said that the CEO later changed his mind and approved the request for the contract from the Bid Evaluation Committee.
Judge Rabkin-Naicker said Ngxonono repeatedly tried to argue that the payments for the number of vehicles could be made out of the surplus income, without specific budget allocation.
However, the judge believed that the CCMA had been correct in rejecting Ngxonono’s application.
“There is no reason that suggests the CCMA did not handle the case in an improper manner or without evidence,” she said.
According to the judge, the CCMA’s decision to reject Ngxonono application was based on the fact that he was “the most senior employee” in Prasa’s finance department and that he was guilty of the number of charges against him.
The judge rejected Ngxonono’s application although his lawyer, Bongani Khanyile, suggested that the case was “unlikely to be the end”.
Khanyile said that Ngxonono’s intentions had been “to save Prasa some money” and that the nature of the allegations against him was false.
“I will consult with Mbulelo and we will move forward to appeal the judge’s ruling after we were given instructions on how to do it,” said Khanyile.
“We believe that some of our submissions were overlooked by the judge,” he added.
Khanyile said Ngxonono would like to return to work immediately if the decision on his dismissal is overturned.