Bitou Municipal Manager Lonwabo Ngoqo was reappointed in March 2019, the appointment was challenged in court based on his previous dismissal from Bitou for serious financial misconduct in 2012, and a judgment was given on 19 September 2019 that his reappointment was found unlawful. Bitou Municipality applied for leave to appeal the judgment and on 9 October 2019, the Labour Court granted leave to appeal (in part) in favour of Bitou Municipality in the matter.
When leave to appeal is granted in this way, the operation of the original judgment is suspended unless the court decides otherwise. The application to enforce the decision comes to court on 25 October and the Ratepayers Association, seeking to intervene in it, will be represented at the hearing by senior counsel.
Mr Ngoqo seemingly plans to return to work as soon as possible. The Plett Ratepayers Association does not want him back, and is urging the Council to suspend the implementation of his employment until the litigation is finalized. Since the Municipality has been told by the Labour Court that the contract is unlawful, this seems the sensible thing to do. To do otherwise would be a contravention of the Systems Act, which prohibits a Council from acting illegally.
We have instructed through the Municipality’s attorney that the municipality should treat him as enjoying no rights as an official until his status is finally resolved, and insisted that he be denied access to the position until the hearing of the enforcement application is heard on 25 October 2019. We have yet to receive a reply.
We will keep you posted on developments.
Direct media enquiries to Debi Nicholson, Plett Ratepayers, [email protected].