Round one to Mogajane

Fired North West agriculture department head Emily Mogajane has won her court battle against North West Premier Edna Molewa.

Ruling in the Mafikeng High Court last week, Judge Ronald Hendricks ordered that Mogajane’s dismissal from the province’s agriculture department be set aside. Molewa fired Mogajane in March.

The judge hauled Molewa over the coals for not following procedure in dismissing Mogajane and ignoring disciplinary hearings last November that also cleared her.

Judge Hendricks said it is ”a disturbing fact” that she was fired while the disciplinary process was not yet finalised. He also rejected Molewa’s argument that Mogajane’s dismissal was in the public interest.

Mogajane, South Africa’s first black female veterinarian, applied last month to the Mafikeng High Court to have her dismissal set aside. She had been axed by Molewa on grounds that she had ”polarised the management and staff of the department, leading to infighting” and had ”continuously, during her suspension, continued to issue negative statements about government in the media”.

The premier also accused Mogajane of flatly refusing an offer ”to negotiate her exit” when informed ”of the terrible, undesirable and unbearable relations that currently exist between yourself and the government”.

Mogajane’s supporters, including the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union, claim she has been victimised because she commissioned a forensic audit into corruption in her department. She is under the protection of the National Prosecuting Authority after providing information on corruption in the North West.

Mogajane was first suspended in August last year for interfering in the language policy of the Potchefstroom Agricultural College. The axed official claimed her remarks were quoted out of context and that she was merely referring to a report on language policy at the college.

Despite winning her case, Mogajane is still at home. She did not want to comment on her victory as she still faces another round in her battle with the premier in the Labour Court.

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Yolandi Groenewald
Yolandi Groenewald
Yolandi Groenewald is a South African environmental reporter, particularly experienced in the investigative field. After 10 years at the Mail & Guardian, she signed on with City Press in 2011. Her investigative environmental features have been recognised with numerous national journalism awards. Her coverage revolves around climate change politics, land reform, polluting mines, and environmental health. The world’s journey to find a deal to address climate change has shaped her career to a great degree. Yolandi attended her first climate change conference in Montreal in 2005. In the last decade, she has been present at seven of the COP’s, including the all-important COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. South Africa’s own addiction to coal in the midst of these talks has featured prominently in her reports.

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