Sunday, February 20, 2011
Boss of estate agency board suspended
Probe into yet another top player proves final straw for Nomonde Mapetla
Feb 19, 2011 11:55 PM | By WERNER SWART
The CEO of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) has been suspended days after ordering an investigation into another industry heavyweight.
Photograph by: ANTONY KAMINJU
The axe fell on Nomonde Mapetla after she initiated a probe into Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty.
Mapetla is credited with launching a clean up the multibillion-rand industry, said to be dominated by whites.
This has resulted in major players such as Wendy Machanik, Seeff Properties and Wakefields facing internal and criminal charges.
Although the organisation tried to keep the move under wraps, it has been established that:
Mapetla was served with a letter of suspension on Thursday;
No reasons for the suspension were given and staff were told she had been placed on special leave for four weeks; and
An investigation into her conduct will only now be launched.
Mapetla and EAAB chairman Thami Bolani would not comment yesterday, but insiders claim Mapetla's "gung-ho approach to investigating the big names in the industry" may have played a role.
It is also understood that staff at the EAAB have lodged complaints about her - although the details remain unclear.
The board's unhappiness also stems from her comments in the media recently.
Mapetla had said that when she took over at the EAAB she was shocked at how "chummy chummy" it had been with the industry players, saying it allowed "the big boys to tell you how to govern the industry".
One prominent agent, who is also under investigation, spoke yesterday of their fury at Mapetla's assertions that the industry was "too white".
Mapetla took up the post six years ago and has been vocal about protecting consumers' interests. She had instituted a whistle-blowers mechanism, finally giving a voice to buyers who felt aggrieved.
Insiders said it was no secret that Mapetla had been under "huge pressure" and had been told she was being "over-zealous".
The Lew Geffen agency is the latest big name to come under the spotlight after a whistle-blower claimed misconduct regarding the handling of trust accounts.
But Geffen yesterday said that although he was unaware of the pending investigation, the EAAB "is more than welcome to come and investigate us".
An insider in the EAAB said: "We still have to send them (Lew Geffen) a letter saying we will investigate. What normally happens is we send detailed questions to the agency we consider investigating and once we receive their reply, depending on those answers, an official investigation is launched."
An insider who knows Mapetla well said she would fight the suspension "tooth and nail".
Another agent, who asked not to be named, said yesterday: "The industry is buzzing because of recent comments Mapetla made about the industry being too white. Everyone feels this is not the right approach for a CEO and it has caused a lot of unease."
Geffen said that under Mapetla the EAAB "has made it impossible for new agents to enter the market".
Geffen said this was because of Mapetla's insistence that all agents have recognised qualifications.
"Very few people are coming in simply because the exams are too hard ... it's made it impossible for black, white, pink or yellow to enter."
Bolani, meanwhile, would yesterday only confirm that Mapetla was on special leave.
"Other than that, I cannot say anything," Bolani said.
Comments by Sonny
The Estate Agency Board is rotten to the core!!
1994 Only brought corruption and decay to SA!