Scandal-ridden public college being run like a ‘spaza shop’

2018-03-21 22:43

Claims of porn-surfing, whistle-blower purging and a distracting affair between senior managers are the latest allegations to rock a public college.

At the centre of the storm is advocate Joe Chiloane, principal of Tshwane South College (TSC), who is accused of having had an affair with the college’s deputy principal of corporate services Deborah Matele, which allegedly affected the college’s administration.

They have allegedly since split.

But Chiloane vehemently denied he had an affair with Malete.

“I didn’t have any relations with that woman. I’d kill myself,” Chiloane said, adding that the college found on her company cellphone records that she was surfing pornography and dating websites.

He accused Malete as one of the people who allegedly worked against him.

Sakie Gomba, a hospitality lecturer, said his contract was terminated in December last year because he was caught in a crossfire following a fall-out between the alleged lovers – Chiloane and Malete.

He claimed he refused an instruction to write a fraudulent affidavit against Malete.

Gomba said he was close to Malete and had seen an exchange of intimate text messages between her and Chiloane.

“Everyone knows that they were in a relationship. That is a public institution. He runs that college as if he is running a spaza shop.”

Another staff member and a former college employee, who asked not to be named, also independently confirmed knowing of the alleged affair, adding that the department did nothing about it.

Asked about the affair, Malete laughed and referred the question to the department of higher education and training.

However, on the question about surfing pornography, Malete said Chiloane was “mentally unstable and obsessed” with her.

She said her lawyers were dealing with the matter and he would have to answer why he was spreading such information.

She said Chiloane was disgruntled because she was cleared of any wrongdoing by the public protector’s report released last year.

Chiloane said Gomba was dismissed last year after it was discovered he had a fraudulent matric certificate, among other charges.

“I’m running a very big institution. I’m a no-nonsense leader. I won’t be discouraged by them. I will act without fear, favour or prejudice,” said Chiloane.

In 2008 the staff lodged a complaint with then Gauteng education MEC Angie Motshekga who commissioned a probe into the maladministration allegations.

The recommendations of the probe were not implemented.

The staff then took the matter to the Public Protector for investigation and intervention.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report detailed the extent of challenges facing the college and found that Chiloane had abused his powers and targeted whistle-blowers after they implicated him in irregularly awarding contracts to private service providers in 2008.

“Allegations that the principal [Chiloane] victimised and harassed TSC employees by subjecting them to disciplinary action and termination of their contracts as a result of their disclosure to MEC Motshekga is substantiated.

“The complainants were charged with various acts of misconduct. Accordingly, all disciplinary hearings, dismissals and non-renewal of fixed contracts against the first complainants amount to unfair labour practice in terms of section 197 of the Labour Relations Act,” the report said.

In her remedial actions Mkhwebane asked then higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande to come up with a mechanism to protect whistle-blowers and find recourse for those who had been affected by the purging and to discipline Chiloane.

The college and the department took Mkhwebane’s report on review to the Pretoria High Court last year. The matter has not been finalised.

Chiloane dismissed purging accusations by alleged whistleblowers as “nonsensical” saying the people, whose allegations were confirmed by Mkhwebane last year, were criminals who had committed various acts of misconduct.

He accused whistleblowers of having damaged his car during protests almost a decade ago and claimed further that they have done a deal with Mkhwebane to damage his name.

Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segwale said Mkhwebane would give evidence about Chiloane and her report at court.

However, she took “exception to the disparaging remarks” made by Chiloane that she had a deal with whistle-blowers.

“She is of the view that they border on contempt for her office, which is an offence in terms of the Public Protector Act.”

Just before leaving the office last month, former president Jacob Zuma signed a proclamation for the special investigating unit to probe allegations of maladministration at the college.

Madikwe Mabotha, higher education and training department spokesperson, said: “As the department is still awaiting the judgment of the high court on the [Public Protector’s] report, it would be premature to act on any of its recommendations.”

Nazreen Pandor, spokesperson for the special investigating unit, said an probe was under way and was expected to be completed in the next financial year.

“The final report will be sent to the President [Cyril Ramaphosa]. But the SIU may make referrals during the course of the investigation to the National Prosecuting Authority.”

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May 19 2019