Court Judgement finds appointment of Bitou Municipal Manager unlawful

The Labour Court of South Africa has handed down judgement in a case brought against the Bitou Municipality, its Speaker, its Mayor and the Municipal Manager (MM).

The case relates to the irregular appointment by the council of the Municipal Manager, Mr Lonwabo Ngoqo and the irregular payment of an amount of R781 184 to Mr Ngoqo in February 2019.

The Municipal Council, based in Plettenberg Bay, in February took a decision to appoint Mr Ngoqo despite the fact that he had been dismissed from the very same Municipality in 2012 after disciplinary proceedings found him guilty of financial misconduct.

The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell took the matter to court after exhausting all other options, and challenged the legality of the actions taken by the Municipal Council which was intended to circumvent the law.

“We never want to go to court against another sphere of government but sadly there are times when we have no other option left.

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In the Western Cape, the rule of law and our continued commitment to good governance and improved service delivery requires of us to be intolerant of unlawful decisions that places the ability of a Municipality to do its job, at risk. So we took the matter to court and we are very happy about the outcome.”

The court found that the decisions taken by the Bitou Council was unlawful and ordered that the settlement agreement entered into between the Municipality and Mr Ngoqo be set aside and that Mr Ngoqo’s appointment as Municipal Manager also be set aside.

“A cost order was also made against the council. We want to urge our municipalities to remember who they are representing.

These are communities who are putting their trust in their leaders and rely on their leaders to place community interests first, said Bredell.”

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