Suspended SETA chief’s case drags on 

The case of the chief executive officer of a government sector education and training authority (Seta) who was suspended after damning allegations against him is still dragging on after two years, with no end in sight. 

Wayne Adams, the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) CEO, was suspended in 2022 following a raft of damning findings made against him in an forensic audit. 

The merSETA confirmed Adams’ suspension to Sunday World this week and added that he was also facing a disciplinary hearing. 

The probe, conducted by Khumalo and Mabuya Chartered Accountants (KnMFM), covered the period 2016 to 2022, which is when the alleged irregularities are said to have occurred. 

The merSETA board chairperson Kate Moloto in response to a Sunday World enquiry said A-dams was placed on precautionary suspension on November 16, 2022 following the forensic audit report findings. 

“The disciplinary inquiry against the CEO commenced on the 26th of October 2023. The disciplinary inquiry is still underway,” said Moloto. 

The merSETA, a state entity falling under the Department of Higher Education and Training, issues discretionary grant funds to companies providing  
training in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. 

In the report, KnMFM alleged that -Adams acted in contradiction to merSETA’s code of conduct policy by failing to promote sound, efficient and accountable administration by allowing training entities to be appointed without meeting the requisite verification requirements. 

Adams also allegedly did not comply with the merSETA’s policy, which required him to report through the appropriate channels any fraud, corruption, nepotism and maladministration, among others. 

He is also accused of failing to adhere to the merSETA code of ethics, which required him to probe and report all detected or reported cases of fraud. 

“… instead he allowed irregular payments to be made to SET, Richbam and other entities notwithstanding his awareness of the irregularities, thus causing irregular expenditure,” read the report. 

According to the report, SET had been irregularly appointed. 

“KnMFM concluded that Mr Adams did not perform his duties in terms of Clause 5.4.2 of his employment contract, in that by erasing evidence of irregularities in the appointment of SET, Richbam and other entities, he failed to meet expectations of transparency, fairness and honesty in his dealings with all internal and external parties,” the report reads in part. 

Adams is furthermore accused of breaching merSETA’s code of ethics, conflict of interest and employment contract by allowing himself to be captured by members of the board and interest groups.  

The report alleged that the relationship of Adams with some of the board members exhibited unethical conduct. This was because the board members worked for companies that benefited from merSETA’s discretionary grant fund and funds were continuously channelled without following merSETA policies. 

It also said it was a challenge that there were board members who solicited personal benefits through the merSETA discretionary grant funding and/or supply chain processes in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. 

The report further revealed that to erase evidence against him, Adams allegedly instructed merSETA’s ICT coordinator to go through the laptops of employees without their knowledge and delete information implicating him in any wrongdoing. 

The investigation further found that Adams deleted items from his work laptop between 9.22am and 10.04am, moments before his suspension on November 16, 2023. 

The report revealed it was concerning that Adams bought company shares for cash valued more than R6-million while in the employ of merSETA in light of the prevalent irregular discretionary grant funding awards. Moloto said the case was dragging as the final report was only approved in May last year. 

Adams couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of going to print. 

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