Coega Development Corporation. Picture: MIKE HOLMES
Coega Development Corporation. Picture: MIKE HOLMES

A R1.4m-a-year manager at a state-owned enterprise was fired after dishonestly helping to land jobs for her lover’s cousin and brother.

Jackie Fort‚ who worked at Coega Development Corporation in Port Elizabeth‚ took her unfair dismissal case all the way to the Labour Appeal Court in Johannesburg.

But it ruled against her‚ saying she had manipulated the Coega recruitment system and was not a credible witness.

The court heard that Fort’s story changed several times during the investigation of her misconduct‚ her disciplinary hearing‚ a hearing at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration, and an appeal at the Labour Court.

Coega claimed she was Adnaan Ebrahim’s lover when she helped to land jobs for his cousin‚ Christa Coetzer‚ and his brother‚ Talha Ebrahim‚ neither of whom had the qualifications required for the vacancies they filled.

She personally provided the human resources department with their CVs and sat on both interviewing panels.

When Coetzer scored less than the top candidate in interviews for a document control officer vacancy‚ Fort irregularly arranged for the position to be split in two so both could be appointed.

Acting Appeal Judge Mathebe Phatshoane said in her judgment‚ handed down on August 17‚ that Fort "cunningly outsmarted her unsuspecting fellow panellists by bringing forth the idea of creating a duplicate … position".

She manipulated the interview process "in a deliberate and devious manner in an effort to hide her machinations and to make the outcome … seem as natural and normal as possible".

Fort had worked at Coega for nine years and was a safety‚ health‚ environmental and quality unit head.

Said Phatshoane: "Nepotism has a damaging effect on the positive corporate culture and is a potential threat to the morale of other employees."

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