CAPE TOWN – The board of directors of the Public Servants Association (PSA) had no powers to suspend deputy general manager Tahir Maepa and provincial manager Thami Makuzeni, according to court papers filed by the estranged employees seeking immediate reinstatement.
Maepa and Makuzeni this week filed papers in the Gauteng High Court seeking the court to nullify their suspension and order the PSA to allow them to return to full duty with immediate effect.
Maepa and Makuzeni want the PSA board’s decision to suspend them declared invalid and unlawful.
In his papers, Maepa said while the board was granted wide-ranging powers, its powers and functions could not be irreconcilable with the statute. He said if the statute vested certain powers on one structure, the board did not have the power to exercise those powers.
Maepa said the power to suspend or take any disciplinary proceedings were vested in the PSA general manager Ivan Fredricks – who was also suspended in January – and not its board.
“The rules of natural justice foresee that Makuzeni and I should have been given an opportunity to be heard before the decision to suspend us was taken. We also submit that it is a person acting in the general manager’s position who should have suspended Ms Makuzeni and I and not the PSA’s board.”
He said neither he nor Makuzeni were afforded an opportunity either by the PSA board or the acting general manager of the PSA, Leon Gilbert, to make representations prior to their suspension.
“In this regard, Gilbert, albeit acting general manager, is clothed with all the powers of the general manager of the PSA. The circular to the staff of the PSA penned by Mulaudzi also attests that Gilbert is vested with all the powers of the general manager,” he said.
Maepa said Gilbert, as acting general manager, owed the board a duty to explain to it that it had no powers to act in the manner in which it did. “But he failed or did not advise the board as he should have.”
PSA president Lufuno Mulaudzi said the board had met on December 11 to initiate an independent investigation into the alleged irregular appointment of a legal firm, Mafa Attorneys, that represented three of its structures at the Labour Court. The board said the suspension was to avoid interference in the investigation.
Mulaudzi confirmed that the association had received court papers from Maepa and Makuzeni challenging their suspension and said it was their constitutional right. He said the PSA would duly respond to the claims, which he dismissed as frivolous but declined to delve into the matter, saying that it was sub judice.