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Phineas MoleelePhineas Moleele

Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA) CEO Phineas Moleele has been placed on precautionary suspension.

The (DOC) had recently ordered a forensic investigation into the agency for financial mismanagement and the USAASA board decided to place Moleele and three other executives, including CFO Andrew Hlubi, on “special leave”, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Moleele’s predecessor, James Theledi, was fired as CEO after being found guilty of sexually harassing a female colleague, who left the organisation amid the controversy. In 2008, then USAASA CFO Keith Keys resigned, following a disciplinary hearing, which found him guilty of financial mismanagement. Former communications minister Roy Padayachie told ITWeb last month that an internal audit report recommended further investigation into the project management office at the USAASA, for financial mismanagement.

“The concern in the report is the manner in which a R19 million project was managed. We’ve accepted the report and ordered a forensic investigation into the matter.”

He explained that a service provider was awarded a R19 million contract for the provision of public access facilities in under-serviced areas, but the project was not complete, yet most of the funds were disbursed to it.

In the current year, the service provider was reappointed, and again, funds were already being disbursed.

At a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications meeting recently, USAASA presented its annual report for 2010/11. It was revealed at the meeting that the outcome of the investigation confirmed the suspicion that irregularities had occurred.

The board decided to place Moleele on precautionary suspension to avoid hampering the investigation.

Officials can be placed on precautionary suspension, pending completion of an investigation. The suspension is lifted if no evidence of wrongdoing is found.