Dear Plett Ratepayers,
We reported at our recent report back meeting that we would be in court on 20 November to ask the judge to enforce the dismissal of Municipal Manager Ngoqo since his appointment was found to be unlawful. The judge’s decision is below.
As background, Bitou Municipal Manager Lonwabo Ngoqo was reappointed in March 2019, his appointment was challenged in court based on his previous dismissal from Bitou Municipality for serious financial misconduct in 2012, and a judgment was given on 19 September 2019 that his reappointment was found unlawful.
The Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers’ Association called on Bitou Municipality to treat him as enjoying no rights as an official until his status is finally resolved, and he be denied access to the position until the hearing of the enforcement application is heard. The Plett Ratepayers’ Association has every reason to believe he is not a fit and proper person to hold responsible office and his record in the employ of the municipality proves he is not to be trusted. We are more concerned than ever at the way municipal business is being handled, and we have explained why during our public report back meeting.
The municipality, which fights tooth and nail to retain him, has launched an appeal which won’t be finalized any time soon. Meanwhile the Municipality refuses to lay him off even though his employment contract is unlawful and has been declared to be so by a court of law.
In recent proceedings flowing out of the original proceedings, the MEC of Local Government asked the court to expel him from office pending the appeal. The Ratepayers’ Association intervened in the case as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) on 20 November in order to represent the interests of ratepayers and residents on the ground. The decision to intervene proved to be a very sound one. In her judgment this week, the judge stressed that a court order is rarely enforced pending an appeal. In her view, this was not the sort of exceptional case in which so drastic an order should be made. We respectfully beg to differ, but our attention must turn to the main issue of the appeal, for which we are now preparing.
Given that a court has already found that Ngoqo’s appointment is illegal and he is thus, in terms of a court order in office illegally, the Council’s proper approach is to remove Ngoqo immediately. The failure to act, besides leading to wasteful expenditure and placing the municipality and the residents of Bitou at risk is grossly irresponsible and a dereliction of their sworn duty to act in the best interests of the residents of Bitou.
Councillors and particularly the Mayor are exposed to personal liability by acting as they do and failing to discharge their duties faithfully.
We will keep you informed.
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