Walvis Bay municipality suspends two employees in RedForce case

Two employees from the Walvis Bay municipality’s finance division received suspension letters on Wednesday morning.

General manager of finance Frans !Gonteb and manager of revenue and credit control Johanna Shidute were told to report to the chief executive office, where they received the letters.

Chief executive officer John Esterhuizen said he was authorised to place the two employees on suspension from their duties with immediate effect, to allow for the unhindered investigation into the appointment of RedForce Debt Management and all matters pertaining thereto.

“This suspension is to allow for full investigation as speedily as possible, without any imputation being made against you whatsoever,” he said in the letter to Shidute.

The letter notes that the two employees will be notified of the outcome of the investigation after the presentation to the council.

They will not be required to report for duty or be allowed access to their offices, any documentation and any electronic information or electronic documents without written authorisation.

The employees noted that they need fairness in the matter.

“I tried to advise the council in the right direction, and now it leads to my suspension. I was never part of the RedForce issue. You will not find my signature in any of the documents signed by me regarding the appointment of RedForce,” said Shidute, adding that she has already contacted her lawyer.

Shidute noted that it was confusing that the order of suspension was given by councillors at Tuesday’s council meeting and not the management committee, and that the matter was not on the council agenda.

!Gonteb said suspension is normal and does not prove that he and Shidute are guilty, but that there must be fair judgment as they did not appoint RedForce Debt Management.

“RedForce was not appointed by us, as a procurement process was followed. There are also committees involved in that process. We are not appointing authorities,” he said.

The municipality’s local authority councillors and the chief executive could not be reached for comment yet, as they were busy with a meeting regarding the issue.

Walvis Bay local authority councillor Ryan Gordon, however, said an order was given for the suspension on Tuesday night, but that full information on the suspension will be communicated after the meeting.

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