Appeal judge rules against Coega manager
A R1.4-MILLION-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 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 into her misconduct, her disciplinary hearing, a hearing at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitrations and an appeal at the Labour Court.
Coega claimed she had been Adnaan Ebrahim’s lover when she helped 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 Judge of Appeal Math- ebe 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 to hide her machinations and to make the outcome . . . seem as normal as possible”.
Fort had worked at Coega for nine years and was a safety, health and quality unit head.