Suspended Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) chief executive Nkululeko Poya has revealed that he instructed investigators to determine which board members at the regulator were “actively acting against him”.
Poya’s admission forms part of an urgent interdict launched at the labour court in October, where he sought to have disciplinary proceedings against him set aside. The interdict was heard in October but was dismissed and his disciplinary hearing started in Pretoria on Monday.
Included in the 13 misconduct charges against him is an allegation that he commissioned private investigations into current and former board members as well as a Mail & Guardian journalist, Athandiwe Saba.
Poya is also charged with gross misconduct for delaying the granting of a safety permit for the Bombela Operating Company which manages the Gautrain, irregular human resource practices and failing to monitor the RSR’s office lease agreement.
In the labour court application, Poya says two members of the board “undermine[d] the RSR” and himself, which is why he took “necessary steps” to protect the organisation.
In March, the M&G reported how an RSR official obtained Saba’s private cellphone records after she wrote a story implicating Poya in corruption. The names of “suspects” at the rail agency regulator who spoke to Saba were then identified in an intelligence report, which was sent to Poya’s personal email account.
At the time, Poya denied any involvement in the surveillance,
saying: “I didn’t even see the report. I have no idea what report you are talking about.”
Poya was also accused by a whistleblower of spying on his colleagues on the RSR board, but, at the time, he denied these allegations as well.
Poya’s lawyer, Sonette Lancaster, said her client could not comment on the hearing or on any of the charges because “the matter is sub judice”.
Poya was employed as chief executive of the RSR in 2011 and has had a turbulent history with the agency, with allegations of nepotism and maladministration following him over the years. In November last year, Poya was suspended with immediate effect.