Nkandla man sues over ‘un­fair dis­missal’

CityPress - - News - ERIKA GIB­SON news@city­press.co.za Rap­port –

The lieu­tenant gen­eral who signed off on the con­struc­tion of a he­li­pad and a clinic at Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s Nkandla home has taken early re­tire­ment.

Ve­jay Ram­lakan, the for­mer sur­geon-gen­eral and head of cor­po­rate ser­vices in the de­fence force, “is out of the sys­tem”, de­fence force head Gen­eral Solly Shoke con­firmed last week.

“There may, how­ever, still be some le­gal is­sues,” Shoke said, but would not elab­o­rate.

How­ever, City Press’ sis­ter news­pa­per, Rap­port, learnt that Ram­lakan, who used to be Nel­son Man­dela’s doc­tor, had in­di­cated to the depart­ment of de­fence that he was plan­ning to sue it for un­fair dis­missal.

This af­ter the de­fence force con­firmed in Novem­ber last year that Shoke had asked Ram­lakan to pro­vide writ­ten rea­sons for why he should not be dis­missed.

Ram­lakan hit back, say­ing he was not go­ing to take early re­tire­ment for his in­volve­ment in the over­spend­ing on the up­grades at Nkandla, but as part of “nor­mal ca­reer plan­ning”.

There is now also a dis­pute about whether the R11.9 mil­lion spent on the clinic, the R10 mil­lion on the he­li­pad and a por­tion of the R126 mil­lion spent on hous­ing for mil­i­tary per­son­nel should be paid for by the de­fence depart­ment.

The depart­ment of public works has passed the ac­count for these up­grades to the de­fence force.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the de­fence force found that Ram­lakan did not have the nec­es­sary del­e­gated au­thor­ity to be­come in­volved in the Nkandla pro­ject.

Ram­lakan’s de­fence was ap­par­ently that no one in the de­fence force had ques­tioned the spend­ing dur­ing the con­struc­tion process.

Rap­port con­firmed on the SA Na­tional De­fence Force’s Per­sol sys­tem over the past week that Ram­lakan of­fi­cially went on early re­tire­ment with a full pen­sion at the end of Fe­bru­ary. How­ever, his of­fice at de­fence force head­quar­ters re­mains un­changed, while some of his per­sonal ad­min­is­tra­tive staff mem­bers are still at their posts.

Shoke said a suit­able re­place­ment would be ap­pointed in due course. Ram­lakan has now moved to Dur­ban. When Rap­port con­tacted him for com­ment this week, he re­fused to speak and hung up.

Absa had ear­lier ob­tained a de­fault judg­ment against him for an out­stand­ing mort­gage on his house in Pre­to­ria amount­ing to R1.2 mil­lion.

Public Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela found in her Nkandla re­port that there had been an ur­gent need for a clinic, hous­ing and a he­li­pad for the com­mu­nity around Nkandla.

But she could not find any rea­sons for why they had to be con­structed at Pres­i­dent Zuma’s pri­vate res­i­dence in­stead of in another area where the rest of the com­mu­nity could have ben­e­fited from them.

Ac­cord­ing to Ram­lakan’s tes­ti­mony given to her, he had sim­ply com­piled a wish list that was to be con­sid­ered by the depart­ment of public works.

The clinic is still not com­plete and stands un­used and empty, with­out any med­i­cal equip­ment.

Madon­sela found that Ram­lakan’s ac­tions con­sti­tuted in­ap­pro­pri­ate mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion be­cause they vi­o­lated the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion, the Public Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act, Trea­sury reg­u­la­tions and the pre­scrip­tions deal­ing with his area of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Ve­jay Ram­lakan

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