Saturday, June 22, 2024

Expelled spy’s case to open can of DISS worms

A labour dispute that will pit Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi against a former DISS agent Pule Matlhopelo is expected to offer a rare glimpse into working conditions inside the spy agency.



The unfair dismissal case comes after Kgosi fired the DISS operative on accusations of indiscipline and absconding from work. The officer on the other hand will present a sheaf of medical records from a number of specialists indicating that he was to perform to his full capacity due to severe injuries he sustained while undergoing physical training at work.


Medical records exchanged between doctors who attended to Matlhopelo show that even after sustaining serious injuries, he was still required by his employer to engage in physical activities which worsened his medical condition.


Sunday Standard has established that Matlhopelo intends to take legal action against DISS to claim damages as a result of the injuries he sustained while undergoing a training exercise and to challenge his dismissal. 


Three independent medical records from medical specialists indicate that Matlhopelo sustained an injury over his left knee while doing some physical training on 31 May 2010. 

The documents indicate that in 2011 he continued to engage in some physical activities that worsened his situation further.


In a letter dated 3 November 2011, addressed to Dr Du Plessis of Little Company of Mary Medical Centre based in Pretoria, Dr Basu of Gaborone Private Hospital states that Matlhopelo was taken for surgery on the 2nd September 2010 and “debridement of the osteochondral fragment and bone grafting was done.” 


He said the bone was fixed with two acumed screws measuring 24 mm.  “The screws heads were buried into the sub-condral bone. The post-operative period was uneventful and he recovered to a large extent.  He had a full flexion on 5th November 2010 and x-ray of the left knee showed full resolution,” stated the doctor.


Dr Basu said Matlhopelo presented himself before him on 20th January 2011 with complaints of painful swelling of the left knee that started after he went for a trip where he had to do some physical activities. 


The doctor said the “pain bothers him intermittently and on 10th June 2011, I took him for the second surgery…”

Dr Basu said Matlhopelo keeps on getting intermittent painful swelling and has persistent limp. 

“I would like to have your expert advice regarding the further management of this young man who is suffering from persistent painful left knee,” Dr Basu pleaded with Dr Du Plessis.


Responding to another letter from Dr. Tiro Mmopelwa of Mahalapye Hospital, another South African surgeon, Dr Lipalo Mokete confirmed that Motlhapelo injured his knee at work during a training exercise. He said “attempted operative fixation failed” adding that Dr Basau was able to remove hardware from the knee during a subsequent operation.


He said Motlhopelo’s pain has been such that he has been boarded as an employee of the intelligence department.


“I should be grateful for your help with rehabilitation treatment as for total knee replacement. Wound dressing can be removed 17 days from the date of surgery. I have warmed him that he is most likely to require further surgery to the knee in the near future,” Mokete informed Dr Mmopelwa.


However, despite opinions from the doctors, Kgosi accused his former employee of lying and absconding from work unnecessarily.


In a letter dated 28 August 2015, Kgosi reminded the agent that on the 4th and 18 June 2015 as well as the 2nd July he appeared before a Class II Disciplinary Board charged with absence from duty contrary to section 22 (i) (e) of the Disciplinary Code being late for duty contrary to section (22) (i) of the Disciplinary Code and falsehood contrary to section 22 (i) (f) of disciplinary Code respectively.


“The board recommended that you be released from your duties as an agent of the Directorate,” said Kgosi.  He said a perusal of the evidence tendered before the board shows that the agent’s conduct “is a cause for concern since it is suggestive untoward and counterproductive behaviour on your part.”


“Intentional absence from work late coming are counterproductive as they do not only affect you personally nut also those with whom you will be reasonably expected to interact with and team with. They impact not only on discipline and team spirit but also demoralise and to a certain extent victimize other officers who have to fill in and extra work at short notice to cover the gap created by your absence and late coming,” stated Kgosi.


He accused Motlhopelo of trying to cover up his tracks by proffering a false explanation for absence and late coming.


“It is clear that you were up and about your personal errands on the dates you absented yourself from work and reported late respectively. As an afterthought you then decided to feign illness and claim to have been at the hospital seeking medical attention. It is therefore apparent that you have completely disengaged and no motivation to continue working for the organisation,” stated Kgosi.


He added that “After a careful thought, formed the view that your truancy and late coming impinged on your performance and constituted an upset in the normal course of business of the office.” 


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