SAPO seeks new CEO as police probe corruption claims

The South African Post Office is looking for a new Group chief executive, after its board reached a “mutually agreed separation” with Motshoanetsi Lefoka last week. The company said the terms of its severance deal are being kept under wraps, but the deal follows a period of special leave for Lefoka since October, following a review of the SAPO governance process related to corruption allegations.

SAPO said Nick Buick will remain as acting Group chief executive, and in the mean time the company is launching a recruitment process immediately to find a permanent CEO to succeed the woman appointed to “steady the ship” at SAPO back in 2007.

Investigations into some of SAPO’s top executives looked into breaches of governance protocol by Lefoka and Group chief operating officer John Wentzel, but a disciplinary enquiry ultimately cleared Group executive strategy officer Marietjie Lancaster.

Initial investigations into a building project at Eco Point in Centurion began in May 2010 after the SAPO board received unsolicited complaints from trade unions about procurement activity related to the new building.

The board suggested last August that there had been irregular expenditure by SAPO executives related to a R425m amount spent on a new 10-year lease for the building, and that it was seeking to recover around R19m in funds spent after SAPO had decided to move its head office from Pretoria Central to the new building at the Eco Point business park.

Police action

Last week, SAPO spokesperson Lungile Lose said in a statement to the press that the company has referred allegations of “criminality” against two of its executives to the South African Police Service (SAPS).

“The SAPS investigation is progressing and the Company reserves the right to institute action against employees to recover any losses it may have suffered as a result of any action by the employees during employment,” the company’s statement said.

SAPO said disciplinary action was only one of the remedies being undertaken, with corrective measures being implemented to eradicate “all forms of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.

This included adoption of a new policy framework, approved by the board, as well as the establishment of a new board subcommittee to monitor “irregular, fruitless and wasteful” spending.

Lefoka, who had spent five years as chief operating officer at SAPO before being appointed CEO in November 2007, is the third chief executive to resign or have employment terminated by SAPO in relation to claims of irregular expenditure in the last seven years.

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