Dr Anthony Turton was suspended on 21 November 2008 by his employer, the CSIR ,on the grounds that his paper on the impending crisis in water supply in South Africa contained statements that amounted to misconduct by him. In addition, Dr Turton was criticised for his communications on this matter to the media.
The CSIR press release on Thursday 27 November 2008, concerning the circumstances of his suspension and alleged misconduct indicate that the relationship between them has been severely damaged.
In the circumstances, Dr Turton has instructed his legal advisers to enter into negotiations with the CSIR in order to seek an amicable termination of his employment relationship.
Dr Turton denies any wrongdoing. The allegations made against him and the highhanded action in suspending him, without even inviting him to respond to the allegations gives rise to the reasonable inference that he is the victim of unstated agendas by certain individuals in the CSIR. It will be contended that the suspension amounts to procedurally unfair conduct and inconsistent with Dr Turton’s rights under the Labour Laws.
The recent statement by Dr Sibusiso Sibisi that Dr Turton made “non- factual” findings in his recent paper is devoid of all truth. Careful scrutiny of the paper will reveal that this allegation is an ill-judged attack on Dr Turton’s integrity. By contrast, it seems evident that Dr Turton’s suspension as a result of his “published writings” is aimed directly as silencing him and censoring the disclosures made in the paper.
Dr Turton is also seriously concerned about the adverse consequences following the CSIR preventing him from attending a meeting of the Board of Governors of the World Water Council which was held the past Wednesday and Thursday in Brazil. Dr Turton had managed to secure South Africa a position on a short-list of 3 Countries to host the next meeting of the World Water Forum with a possible 15 000 delegates likely to attend. Dr Turton was to have lobbied at that meeting for South Africa to host the next meeting. Dr Turton was confident that he would have achieved this goal for the benefit of South Africa as a whole.
Because it is clear that the current relationship between the CSIR and Dr Turton has already had an extremely negative impact on the South African and International Scientific and Research Community as a whole as well as the fact that the trust relationship between Dr Turton and his employer has been broken down irretrievably, Dr Turton has expressed his willingness to seek an amicable solution inclusive of his termination of employment with the CSIR.
Dr Turton has instructed his legal advisers to take appropriate steps accordingly.
(Dr Turton is represented by attorney Herman van Rensburg OF HJ van Rensburg Inc and Adv Andre du Plessis of the Johannesburg Bar)