Limpopo Provincial Government Information Technology Officer (PGITO) Lesetja Mathiba has been served a letter of precautionary suspension dated last Friday, a move he anticipated after having turned to the Zondo Commission with a dossier – alleging corruption related to the Limpopo Connexion broadband project – in the beginning of April this year.
The suspension letter was handed to him on Monday, Mathiba stated and aired the suspicion over his suspension having been made official after a follow-up story on Polokwane Observer’s front page last Thursday. He said he regarded his suspension a further step in contravention of the Protected Disclosures Act supposed to protect whistle-blowers from perceived persecution. For that reason he gave precedence to the testimony he was supposed to give before the Zondo Commission, which he envisaged to occur in near future, instead of the letter issued to him on behalf of Premier Stan Mathabatha. Polokwane Observer was furnished with a copy of the letter.
At the time of going to press Mathiba indicated he was currently in contact with the Hawks in Limpopo on a related broadband project reflected on in a 23-page report of which a copy had been forwarded to Polokwane Observer.
Particulars of the charges against him and notices would be served in due course, it was stipulated in the correspondence addressing his suspension.
In the letter it was further set out that Mathiba was suspended from duty with immediate effect on the basis of an apprehension that he committed acts of misconduct. It was detailed that he was being suspected of failing “to use proper mechanisms and or failed to follow official procedures (to) register your dissatisfaction(s) with Limpopo Connexion despite (a) directive by the Director-General issued to you on the 22 October 2018” and failing “to comply with a lawful and reasonable instruction issued to you by the Premier on the 22 May 2019”. With reference to the October 2018 date line mentioned in the letter, Mathiba denied having received such a directive from Director-General Nape Nchabeleng, whom he said had no delegation of authority over Senior Management Service members while only the Premier had that authority.
In the suspension letter it was emphasised that the precautionary suspension was aimed at securing government information from improper disclosure to third parties and to minimise reputational damage he continued to inflict on the Office of the Premier and the entire provincial administration. “While on suspension you are not allowed to have contact(s) with employees of the Limpopo provincial administration and the media regarding allegations of your misconduct.” Mathiba was further warned that while on suspension he remained an employee of the Office of the Premier and wasn’t allowed to carry any business activity in contravention of his conditions of service.
At the time of going to press an enquiry related to confirmation of the letter of precautionary suspension was directed at Premier’s spokesperson Kenny Mathivha who referred Polokwane Observer to Mamogu Ntuli, who undertook to get back with a response.
Story: YOLANDE NEL