Kahimise fends off another suspension

The High Court yesterday put on hold a third attempt by the City of Windhoek to suspend its CEO on disciplinary charges.

30 January 2019 | Justice

City of Windhoek CEO Robert Kahimise yesterday won a stay in suspension proceedings after bringing an urgent application before High Court Judge Claudine Claasen.

The judge ruled that yesterday afternoon's pre-suspension hearing, and any further action, was stayed until the outcome of his court application was made.

She instructed the City to file answering affidavits by 1 February. Kahimise was instructed to respond on or before 7 February and the matter was postponed to 8 February.

In his founding affidavit, Kahimise said he sought relief from repeated proceedings against him by the city council “pending the finalisation of the labour dispute” between him and the City.

He explained at length the “grave damage to (his) image as a member of society” that the stigma of his repeated suspensions had brought.

The City had twice suspended him and then reinstated him, only to launch new suspension procedures following alleged irregularities with a study loan, special leave and an overseas trip.

Yesterday the City, after reinstating him on 25 January, sought to suspend him for a third time, but the meeting was stayed by the High Court order.

Kahimise detailed the process of his application for tuition fees under the City's Private Study Aid Scheme, which he said was approved by the mayor and the chairperson of the management committee and “supported by a senior human resource officer”.

He said he also applied for special leave of 11 calendar days to attend seminars related to his studies.

As a staff member of the City, Kahimise asserted that he was eligible for the tuition monies.

The suspension of City Police chief Abraham Kanime is also discussed in some detail by Kahimise. He said after he had informed council member Moses Shikwa, who had posed several questions regarding the police chief's suspension, of the details of the matter, a motion was still made by him to seek an independent legal opinion on the matter.

This was followed by several other management committee meetings which purportedly probed his study aid as well as allegations that he had concealed the issue for six months.

In his documents before the court, Kahimise filed his application for study aid, which form was fully completed and approved as per the requirements.

However, the committee found against him.

“This was done despite the fact the council had already started deducting, and continues to date, to deduct the repayment instalments.”

Moreover, he said, the management committee recommended 'special leave' while the council recommended 'suspension'.

“While [the] council resolved to suspend me on 17 October 2018, it acted unfairly in that it never sought any representation from me” in terms of the conditions of service, Kahimise told the court.

Following this, Kahimise was reinstated only to be suspended again on 5 November last year. On 8 November, he laid a complaint at the labour commissioner's office. A first conciliation meeting on 17 December did not materialise and subsequently took place on 11 January. These “proceedings were postponed to a further date” for the City to obtain further instructions.

However, Kahimise told the court, on 25 January he was informed that council had on 24 January resolved to set aside his suspension and that he was to report for duty on the 25th.

Then, he was informed in yet another letter that he should make representations on 29 January at 14:30 why he should not be suspended.

“I say I was surprised because the proceedings which are pending before the labour commissioner have not yet been concluded.”

Patrick Kauta from Weder, Kauta and Hoveka act for Kahimise while Willem van Greunen from Köpplinger Boltman appears for the City.


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