Suspended head of prisons in KZN vows to fight for his job
Nxele was suspended a week ago for “gross insubordination”. In a Facebook rant he accused his boss, national prisons commissioner Zach Modise, of taking the disciplinary action publicly because he was “eager to tell the world of the specific sins I’m alleged to have committed”. Nxele is challenging his suspension in the Durban Labour Court.
Last week Modise said: “Mr Nxele’s suspension follows allegations of acts of gross insubordination as well as failure to implement instructions of the national office. Disciplinary processes are under way. Further details relating to the suspension will not be publicly disclosed as this is a matter between employer and employee.”
In the suspension letter sent on Tuesday, Modise said Nxele was being disciplined for disobeying a direct order to reinstate former special projects deputy director Smangele Ngobese. He had also refused to participate on an interview panel for several senior positions.
“I have decided to institute an investigation into the alleged acts of misconduct, and in view of the seriousness of the alleged acts of misconduct and the possibility that your presence in the workplace might jeopardise the said investigation, I contemplate to place you [sic] on precautionary suspension until the investigation has been finalised,” wrote Modise.
But Nxele fired back – in court papers and on his Facebook page. On Saturday he wrote: “It is now public knowledge that I have been on [the] touch line, or [on] sabbatical, if you like. Indeed the matters are internal. However, the other party was eager to tell the world of the specific sins I’m alleged to have committed without substantiating its claims . Damage and prejudice is done against me in the mind of the reader and whoever might hear the story.” He said he would defend himself against being labelled a “rebel”.
But in Labour Court papers, filed on Thursday, Nxele said there were no grounds for him to reinstate Ngobese as she had been on unauthorised leave for more than 30 consecutive days in 2012. He said Modise’s insistence that she be reinstated did not take into account that her dismissal was currently before the Labour Court. The state attorney had said the correctional services department’s prospects of success “were excellent”.
Nxele said he refused to sit on the interviewing panel because of “irregularities”, which he raised, in writing, with his seniors. Modise ignored his concerns, he said. Both issues are being investigated by the public protector and the Public Services Commission. Nxele claimed his suspension was an attempt to frustrate that probe. “The imminent suspension is designed to remove me from the workplace so that I would not have access to the relevant documents and potential witnesses. “This would be severely detrimental to the investigation,” he said.