Judgment reserved in Matona suspension challenge

Judgment in the challenge by Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona to have his suspension set aside has been reserved by the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Thursday, City Press online reported.

The decision was expected to be handed down on Friday.

Earlier, Eskom questioned why Matona’s suspension should be lifted before the outcome of his case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA).

“…This is frustrating the work of the board to try and steady the ship,” said Eskom’s counsel Paul Kennedy SC of Matona’s dual application to the court and the CCMA.

He said load shedding and Standard and Poor’s downgrading of Eskom’s rating would not suddenly end if his suspension was lifted.

He should rather wait for the outcome of an inquiry into the power utility’s problems.

Kennedy said Matona’s suspension on March 11 had a life of three months — the duration of the inquiry.

While the case was being heard the company announced another round of blackouts.

Eskom believed there was nothing to show that Matona’s reputation would be irreparably harmed by waiting for the outcome of the inquiry.

Matona filed his case at the Labour Court and the CCMA on March 20.

Matona’s counsel Andrew Redding SC said his client was “confused” when he was told he was being suspended.

Before that there had been a meeting to decide whether to hold an inquiry into the company’s problems. There was not enough support at the meeting but at a later meeting board chairman Zola Tsotsi said the inquiry would go ahead and asked Matona to recuse himself for the inquiry’s duration.

Matona had tried to clarify whether this was actually a suspension and whether he should go to work or not.

Redding said: “Absent is any statement to Mr Matona that he is guilty of misconduct… or that there is any suggestion that he is guilty of misconduct. Not one statement.”

The other three asked to step down are finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, group capital executive Dan Morokane, and commercial and technology executive Matshela Koko.

Matona was present at the hearing but declined to speak to the media, saying his conditions of suspension precluded this.

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Judgment reserved in Matona suspension challenge