A whistleblower who tipped off Corruption Watch early last year will no doubt sleep sounder at night now knowing that acting superintendent-general Abe Seakamela has been fired from the North West Education Department.
In mid-March Seakamela pleaded guilty to misconduct charges following an internal probe into allegations that he irregularly employed and then promoted his wife, Mphoentle Mogotsi-Seakamela, rapidly upping her salary from R92 190 to R454 356.
Despite the acting superintendent-general being fired for appointing his wife to a top post, she still has the job. The province’s education department today confirmed to Corruption Watch that Mogotsi-Seakamela is still employed as a deputy director there.
Corruption Watch has followed the story of the former acting superintendent-general, Abe Seakamela, with interest after an anonymous whistleblower reported these nepotism allegations to us three days after launching, on 29 January 2012. The case against him was finalised on 14 March 2013.
The North West Education Department reported last week that Seakamela and his lawyer pleaded guilty to the two charges of misconduct. “This was contrary to the stance he adopted upon his suspension in August last year. The plea of guilt by Dr Seakamela was even done before a presiding officer could make a final ruling,” said the department’s communication officer Brian Setswambung.
The chairperson of the internal inquiry into Seakamela’s conduct found him guilty on charges of “irregular expenditure, transfer of employee(s) against the moratorium on transfers and on prejudicing the department and provincial government’s administration by referring a forensic report to the Public Protector prior to exhausting internal remedies”.
“This implies that the tribunal found him guilty on the three charges as he also pleaded guilty at the end of the case. On the basis of this guilty plea and the seriousness of the case, the ruling of dismissal was passed.”
Who says money can’t buy love?
Seakamela was the department’s deputy director-general and acted as a superintendent-general from June 2011 until his suspension in July 2012. During his tenure, in 2005, he employed Mphoentle Mogotsi-Seakamela, who was earning R92 190 as a schoolteacher, as his personal assistant. The two were lovers at the time.
As the acting superintendent he promoted her five months later, raising her salary to R174 981. It was one of several irregular promotions, with Mogotsi-Seakamela eventually earning R454 356 as deputy director. She was also paid a supervisor’s bonus of R26 461 in 2006. The Seakamelas were married in 2009.
When she was appointed North West Education MEC, Louisa Mabe started an investigation. Seakamela initially dismissed the allegations of maladministration and nepotism, saying they were a witch-hunt. “All matters relating to salary adjustments and other remuneration were in accordance with the prescripts of the law,” he said.
The matter was investigated internally in 2005 and externally by the then MEC Johannes Tselapedi. Mabe’s predecessor, Raymond Elisha, then ordered an investigation. It found:
- There was no supervisor post in the deputy director-general’s office – Seakamela’s office – where Mogotsi-Seakamela was based. Given this, her appointment and the payment of the acting allowance were irregular.
- Mogotsi-Seakamela moved to line function and support in 2006, where she has remained. Her salary rose from R175 981 to R454 356, placing her at the deputy director’s level. There were numerous extraordinary adjustments to her salary.
- Despite a policy directive that relatives of employees may not be employed in posts under direct supervision of their relative, whether by blood or marriage, Mogotsi-Seakamela was in a post under direct supervision of her husband.
Seakamela said previously that Tselapedi’s external report was submitted to the Office of the Public Protector, “who laid the matter to rest”.
But Oupa Segalwe, the manager: outreach, education and communication in the office, has confirmed an investigation into Seakamela is ongoing. “We have not finalised our report on this matter yet. It is still continuing,” he told Corruption Watch today.