Xolisa Phillip News editor
Bongani Maseko. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Bongani Maseko. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

A legal opinion prepared by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, a copy of which has Business Day has seen, spells out the damning allegations against Airports Company SA (Acsa) CEO Bongani Maseko, and the charges that should be brought against him and other senior officials that were suspended in 2016.

The Acsa board roped in Norton Rose Fulbright to provide it with guidance on what to do with the rot uncovered by Dr VS Mncube Consulting during a forensic investigation and a legal opinion prepared by advocate Fezile Reeves Memani on the parastatal’s supply chain management lapses.

The Norton Rose Fulbright legal opinion was submitted on February 2, when the Acsa board convened an emergency teleconference.

In the legal opinion, Norton Rose Fulbright formulated the nature of the charges that should be brought against Maseko, as well as procurement manager Percy Sithole, GM for regional airports Jabulani Khambule and legal counsel Bongani Machobane.

Norton Rose Fulbright recommended that the suspensions of Sithole, Khambule and Machobane be extended. If this were not done, the senior managers would be entitled to go back to work because their suspensions were effective from November 7 2016 to February 3 2017.

The law firm also recommended that Maseko be suspended, saying his continued presence at work might deter witnesses from coming forward.

Norton Rose Fulbright also recommended in the legal opinion that pre-suspension scripts be prepared for all the officials, including Maseko. In addition, the law firm suggested that the officials concerned be issued with notices of disciplinary inquiries and letters of suspension.

The charge sheet prepared against Maseko includes allegations that he "contravened section 45(c) of the … [Public Finance Management Act] by failing to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure …".

In a document prepared for the teleconference and containing resolutions to be adopted, an Acsa board ad hoc committee also asked for an extension of Dr VS Mncube Consulting’s contract from January 30 2017 to May 31 2017.

The scope of Dr VS Mncube Consulting’s work would include evaluating evidence, as well as meeting and preparing witnesses. Norton Rose Fulbright and Acsa’s legal department would manage the process.

The ad hoc committee was set up to handle complaints brought before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, along with the suspended officials’ disciplinary cases.

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