By Staff Reporter
BLOEMFONTEIN -The head of department (HOD) for Police, Roads and Transport in the Free State, Sipho Mtakati, has been put on precautionary suspension for a period of 60 days.
Premier Sisi Ntombela announced in a statement released on Thursday that Mosa Tlali will stand in as the acting HOD over the two-month period.
Spokesperson of FS Premier, Sello Pietersen told media that the suspension is to make way for an internal investigation into the construction of some major roads which remain unfinished.
“His suspension is to allow for an internal investigation into the incomplete main roads in the province whose timeline has long elapsed,” said Pietersen.
He would however not mention the roads concerned saying the information remains sensitive as the investigation is still under way.
Pietersen said some of the roads had become death traps due to their incomplete state and it made it difficult to sell the province as a good destination for business.
“If you drive around the province, some of the main roads are in a very bad state and may cause unnecessary loss of life,” he said.
“It’s a decision of the provincial government to have value for money on its projects, hence an investigation of this nature.”
A source close to the matter who preferred not to be named said Ntombela told Mtakati in the letter of suspension that she had decided to suspend him because of the negative reports she had received on five particular roads.
The letter, according to the source, does not mention the roads either, but the premier is said to have told Mtakati that the collapsing of the five major road projects had a dire impact on the province.
“As head of department, you are ultimately responsible to ensure that once contractors have been appointed to repair an identified road which poses a danger to the public travelling on it, that the project is properly managed to its logical conclusion and that government funds are appropriately,” Ntombela is said to have written to Mtakati.
The source said Mtakati is also told in the letter that his alleged failure to ensure that these road projects were properly managed could be regarded as serious misconduct.
Farmers, taxi operators and other businesspeople have in the past complained about the poor state of the roads in the province.
In March, farmers and taxi drivers blocked a road in Ficksburg, demanding that the provincial government fix the roads which they said were in a deplorable state.
The protesters described the R26 road as “life threatening” and that it was becoming impossible to farm in the area.
Meanwhile, Ntombela has appointed Social Development MEC Mamiki Qabathe as the acting MEC for Police, Roads and Transport.
The incumbent, Sam Mashinini is said to be on sick leave.
Qabathe assumed the acting role from yesterday and will end on June 18.
Meanwhile, provincial treasury HOD Godfrey Mahlatsi has been appointed the acting HOD for the Department of Health following the resignation of Dr David Motau to pursue other interests.
Masechaba Modise will replace him as the acting head for provincial treasury.
Announcing the changes, the premier said: “All these changes are meant to positively enhance the administration of the Free State provincial government. I have no doubt that all the individuals will bring positive energy into their new responsibilities and help us build the Free State we want.”