EXCLUSIVE: What we know about Ombudsman’s suspension

Suspended City of Joburg Ombudsman, Sdu Gumede describes his suspension as an abuse of power and an attempt to intimidate him.

 

The disappearance of important documents and failing to disclose his interests to the City are some of the allegations levelled against the suspended City of Joburg Ombudsman, Advocate Sdu Gumede.

According to information contained in Gumede’s founding affidavit submitted to the Labour Court, he has denied having anything to do with the disappearance of a folder containing data from the municipality’s server in Braamfontein.

“My professional background is law, not computer science. I would not even know where to begin to try and access, for purposes of concealment or deletion of data, folders from servers at Group ICT. In any event, my office and I do not enjoy unsupervised access to that environment. My entire operations and staff are in Houghton and theirs are in Braamfontein,” read his affidavit.

The biggest and main charge that seems to be at the centre of Gumede’s suspension is his alleged failure to disclose his relationship with one of his office’s service providers. Randburg Sun understands that the City alleges that Gumede failed to disclose his conflict of interest with the company that provided call centre services to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Gumede, however, maintains that he has no conflict of interest with Yeo Technologies as he does not share an interest in the entity or with any of the directors of Yeo Technologies.

The company was appointed to set up a call centre facility and to develop and manage a website for the Office of the Ombudsman. It ran and managed the website from its own premises in Woodmead, which is also where the call centre operated from. “I had no control over the management of the website and call centre,” Gumede said.

What seemed to have triggered the suspension is his relationship with the director of the said company. In response to the allegation, Gumede explained that more than 10 years ago, Yeo Technologies director, Godfrey Nkoane and he were co-directors, along with a number of other directors, in a company called Julani Investments.

“I am advised by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission that that company was deregistered sometime in 2013. The company never traded. As I recall, it never even operated a bank account. It was dormant almost from incorporation and most of us had even forgotten that it ever existed.”

He continued to point out that when Yeo Technologies was appointed to provide ICT services to the Office of the Ombudsman, he was unaware that Nkoane was involved with that company and Nkoane was unaware that he was the Ombudsman.

“I did not participate in any supply chain management decision-making processes involving Yeo Technologies, the municipality or the Office of the Ombudsman,” Gumede concluded, adding that all procurement for the Office of the Ombudsman was done by Group ICT and the municipality’s legal and contracts department.

 

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Belinda Pheto & Chantelle Fourie

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