Blowing open R756 million “scam” did not save DoC spin doctor

Former communications minister Dina Pule’s spin doctor, Wisani Ngobeni, has lost his bid for whistle-blower protection, which means that disciplinary action can be taken against him. This is according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Judge AJ Tlhotlhalemaje ruled that Ngobeni did indeed demonstrate that he has made a protected disclosure, which was made in good faith.

However, the ruling stated that Ngobeni was not entitled to have disciplinary action against him set aside, because “the intended disciplinary action will not constitute an occupational detriment, that he has not established what irreparable harm he would suffer, and further that he has alternative remedies”.

In February the SABC reported that President Jacob Zuma authorised the Special Investigating Unit to investigate a R756 million publicity tender with Media Corner. The tender was intended to create awareness about digital terrestrial television.

According to the allegation, payments of around R40 million were made to the company without proof of any work being completed.

The Sunday World reported that the investigation was set to “blow open an alleged plot to loot over R756 million from the Department of Communications”.

Ngobeni accused communications Director-General Rosey Sekese and her deputy, Sam Vilakazi, of irregular expenditure regarding this project. This, he said, led to a crusade against him to try to get rid of him at the DoC.

However, the DoC said that before Ngobeni made these accusations an investigation into his ‘improper’ appointment of another service provider was underway.

Judge Tlhotlhalemaje dismissed Ngobeni’s application to protect him against disciplinary action.

Ngobeni grabbed the spotlight in 2013 when he was Pule’s go to man to try to protect the former minister against bad press.

In November 2013 the Sunday Times reported that Ngobeni was told he was no longer needed to deal with the media fall-out around Pule.

However, he got an order from the Johannesburg Labour Court on Friday, 22 November 2013 which allowed him to return to his job as the DoC’s chief director of marketing and communications, pending settlement negotiations with the department.

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Blowing open R756 million “scam” did not save DoC spin doctor