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Hoohlo fired


Mohloai Mpesi

The long-drawn-out spat between the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO), Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Futho Hoohlo and the company’s Board of Directors reached its zenith this week as he was shown the door at the water utility company for running it to its fall.

The 26th Special Board Meeting of the company held on September 17, 2021, resolved to sever ties with Hlooho, stating that the Director of Operations, Thelejane Thelejane who had been acting as CEO since Hoohlo’s suspension will continue to hold fort until further notice.

The Acting Chairman of the Board of Directors, Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai authored the letter addressed to Hoohlo stating that the former CEO made it impossible for the disciplinary hearing that was slated to be staged against him with a sequence of sick leaves.

He further pinned the recent staffers’ 3.5% salary increment demand on Hoohlo, charging that he had initiated the whole process without the Board’s approval which put the company’s financial standing in jeopardy.   

“This serves to advice you that the 26th Special Board Meeting held on the 17th September 2021, resolves to terminate your employment and dismiss you from the employ of Water and Sewerage Company (Pty) Ltd with immediate effect due to the following,” he said.

“Despite the Board’s efforts to afford you a hearing since May 10, 2021 in relation to serious disciplinary charges that were levelled against you, it proved impractical for the disciplinary case to proceed for reasons known to the parties.

“You failed to provide presentations why action, which may include termination of your employment contract, may not be taken against you for committing the Company to 3.5% staff salary increment without Board approval and thereafter withholding this information from Board. Your actions which put the company in a precarious financial situation triggered staff outrage on or about the 8th September 2021,” he said.

Rasekoai continued that, “There is irretrievable breakdown of working relations and trust between you and the Board following bogus criminal charges which you laid to police officers that were under your supervision and control against the Board in relation to the procurement of a private investigator who was engaged to investigate your acts of misconduct.

“WASCO reserves the right to challenge any prospective reliance on sick notes that you consistently issued whenever you were supposed to appear before a disciplinary tribunal. This was despite the fact that one of the doctors had cleared you to resume work on July 29, 2021.

“You are therefore kindly requested to handover the Company motor vehicle and any other WASCO property that may be in your possession to Mr. Molefi Mohapi immediately upon receipt of this letter.

“I take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the Board and on my behalf, for your service and wish you all the best in your future endeavours,” he said.

However, all these happens while the company is facing contempt of court which was set to proceed today wherein they did not abide by the Labour Court’s ruling to repay the money cut from Hoohlo’s salary in July this year following his sick leave authorised by the doctor.

Hoohlo’s dismissal comes amidst the water utility company’s many-a-misery it has had to grapple with in latter times, inclusive of an exodus of senior board members including the chairman and his deputy hence Rasekoai’s acting capacity to the board with multiple vacancies.

Hoohlo was employed at WASCO on a three-year primary contract from August 5, 2019 to August 4, 2022. Subsequent to the engagement, and just about a year later, the applicant received a letter from the chairperson of the Board of Directors, requesting him to show cause why he cannot be suspended from duty. The letter was dated November 11, 2020, the same date the applicant fell ill and issued a note from the doctor that he should take leave from work and the respondent insisted the applicant shows-cause why he cannot be suspended.

He was subsequently suspended on November 15, 2020, hence the presence of his application challenging the legality of his suspension. While WASCO argued that the court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to interfere in this matter.

However, it was submitted on behalf of the respondent that the applicant’s contract draws within the law; whenever there is a beef between the contracting parties, they must endeavour resolving their disputes by invoking the provisions of the employer’s human resource regulations.

Hoohlo was expected to answer the show-cause letter on the same day at 18hrs00, and on the same day the applicant saw his doctor and was confirmed unfit for work from November 11, 2020 to the 13th and was expected to report to work on November 14.

On November 12, the chairman of the Board, Ramolise wrote to Hoohlo, acknowledging receipt of the sick note and extending the deadline of the response to the 14th.

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