Gobabis municipality suspends whistle-blower

21 September 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGE



WINDHOEK

The Gobabis town council has suspended executives-turned-whistle-blower Wynona Steyn for allegedly leaking information on irregularities relating to the suspension of five employees recently.

Steyn, who was suspended on full pay for the next six months, was the municipality’s acting strategic executive of human resources and corporate services at the time of her suspension.

Council management chairperson Sylvester Binga confirmed the suspension.

“She tampered with an ongoing investigation and released council information without permission,” he said.

Her suspension letter, which Namibian Sun has seen, indicates that she was suspended over “suspected incidents of serious misconduct on your part”.

Disciplinary action

“If these serious allegations are found to be true, council has reason to believe that this may lead to disciplinary action. This will lead to formal charges against you that may be different than stated above. In light hereof, an unhindered investigation needs to be conducted into all these incidents of suspected or alleged misconduct. You are thus placed on immediate suspension given the urgency and seriousness of the suspected acts of misconduct,” the letter read.

Efforts to get comment from Steyn on her suspension proved futile as calls made to her went unanswered.

Those initially suspended included electrical services manager Johannes Nantuua, human resource manager Ashipala Shilemba, finance and IT and procurement manager Fillemon Makili, IT technician Paul Kayambu and IT officer Kondjeni Nghiwanapo.

They were all placed on suspension after letters requiring them to advance reasons why they should not be suspended were served to them last Thursday. The suspensions were confirmed by the municipality’s acting CEO, Steve Adonis, at the weekend.

The group, represented by defence lawyer Sisa Namandje, gave notice in the High Court recently about their intention to fight for their reinstatement.

Victimisation

A number of employees who are considered to be members of Swapo or members of tribes not considered to have originated from the Omaheke Region, and Gobabis in particular, largely Oshiwambo-speaking, allegedly faced a campaign of victimisation by the late CEO, Mr [Ignatius] Thudinyane,” Makili said in an affidavit.

He added: “The situation became worse after the local authority elections during November 2020 when the majority of councillors from [the] Gobabis Ratepayers Association, National Unity Democratic Movement, Landless People’s Movement and Popular Democratic Movement by majority took over the Gobabis town council and management committee.”

He also took issue with the manner in which the suspensions were affected, saying that it was unlawful and politically motivated.

“It is important to state that the applicants, targeted through unlawful suspensions, are all from one tribe. Furthermore, Gobabis being a small town, the applicants are known to be members of the ruling party.”

Gobabis residents, however, claim that the tribal and political spin to the saga is aimed at shielding the suspended and to hide their involvement in alleged dubious activities.

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