AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Joburg city fires fake degree roads boss who made staff call him ‘Dr’
Investigation confirms that Tshepo Mahanuke misrepresented his experience and qualifications.
According to a letter to the mayoral committee, the Johannesburg Roads Agency board has axed Tshepo Mahanuke for faking his qualifications and overstating his experience.
On June 6, JRA board chairperson Charles Cilliers told the city’s mayoral committee that Mahanuke’s employment was terminated.
He was suspended in November 2022 after Daily Maverick reported that he claimed a fake degree, had bought his Honorary Doctorate and that whistleblowers said he had insisted staff call him ‘Dr’.
Since then, Mahanuke has played legal snakes and ladders with the JRA board, stating it had no authority to investigate him and then interdicting his disciplinary hearing. When Cilliers heard that the legal bill was already R1.6-million and would escalate through 2023 and into 2024, he told the mayoral committee that Mahanuke’s employment would be terminated.
“An investigation was conducted by Majang Attorneys confirming that Mr Mahanuke’s CV was not accurate in relation to his work experience and that he did not have a Master of Competitive Intelligence linked to Harvard University, as claimed in his CV,” says the report to the mayoral committee. There is a cottage industry in people getting qualifications from colleges based near Harvard and Oxford, where recipients then claim these to be from Harvard or Oxford.
Mahanuke, with insiders, also finagled his package and earned over R3-million a year. He has been paid his full salary since being suspended. Disciplinary cases in the city can drag on for months, costing beleaguered citizens service funds. While the MEC for Transport, Kenny Kunene, has been energetic in repairing roads, the city’s network is still a byword for dysfunction.
There are an estimated 40,000 potholes on the 12,000 km city road network at any one time; cable thieves cut traffic lights during power cuts, and Johannesburg Water, the city’s water utility, leaves huge dug-outs when it repairs water pipes. Several cars have fallen into these holes.
“The Labour Relations Act does not require a formal disciplinary hearing be held before dismissing an employee for misconduct. Failure to do so does not automatically amount to a procedurally unfair dismissal. Where compelling evidence and circumstances exist, hearings are not essential to determine the facts of a matter,” says the report. Mahanuke gerrymandered his hearings since February, prompting Cilliers to act. “It is the well-considered view of this board that Mr Mahanuke’s credentials are indeed false on a balance of probability, and no evidence has been provided opposing this conclusion.”
In the latest report, the city said it had fixed 7,647 potholes and was slowly getting its revs back. But it still characterised road infrastructure, internal fraud, and corruption as high risks for the agency. DM