SIPHIWO “Speech” Sohena who has been dogged by controversy and fired or suspended from several high-ranking municipal positions over the past decade is in line for yet another top local government post in the Eastern Cape – but this time under a completely different name.
Opposition politicians have now questioned the motives behind the sudden change of name with Democratic Alliance MPL Dacre Haddon saying: “The question to be asked is why Mr Sohena is changing his name at this stage and applying for this position under his new name.
“Could it be that, given his [past] employment record it could be a hindrance in him obtaining employment, and [this] has necessitated a name change?”
Sohena, under his new name Siphiwo Caga, was recently appointed acting municipal manager of Nxuma, which includes the Bedford and Adelaide regions, and appears likely to be appointed permanently to the position. He was deployed to the position by Eastern Cape MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs Mlibo Qoboshiyane earlier this year.
But Sohena denied there was anything sinister about his change of name and said he had never kept it a secret from his employer. “When I was appointed at Bhisho I did disclose to them who I am and I had documents to prove that.”
When he was still known as Sohena he was twice either suspended or fired from senior positions following allegations of “gross mismanagement” and corruption.
In spite of this he was appointed head of Operation Clean Audit 2014 – which falls under the Local Government and Traditional Affairs Department.
His continuous resurfacing in municipal government roles despite his dismal track record led to accusations that he enjoyed special protection within the ANC.
Sohena first raised eyebrows after being suspended by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality where he worked as human resources manager in 2004 following allegations of corruption, nepotism and bribery.
A media storm erupted when it emerged he had been involved in the purchase of 300 golf shirts at an astounding R560 each and 300 bags at R216 each, amounting to more than R230 000, for a housing conference that year.
He later left the municipality after being awarded a generous golden handshake believed to be at least R1-million. He was then fired from the Sundays River Valley Municipality in 2008 after facing 11 charges of corruption and mismanagement.
Despite this he was last year appointed as acting municipal manager of the Mbashe Municipality which includes towns like Dutywa and Willowvale.
This prompted DA Shadow Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs James Lorimer to say at the time that “this case proves two things: that the ANC’s cadre deployment policy dooms municipal government to failure, and that cadre deployment is still being practised even when all evidence points to it being inappropriate”.
Lorimer also said “it would be nice to know what hold Mr Sohena has over the ANC in the Eastern Cape that guarantees him continued employment”.
Sohena admitted to Weekend Post yesterday that he had changed his name to Caga, but said there were valid reasons for the move.
He said he was born out of wedlock to a “Mrs Sohena and the late Mr Caga”.
“I was therefore born as Siphiwo Caga but after the divorce between my parents my mother changed [my name] to Sohena.
“During my adulthood I discovered I belong to the Caga family and as such I made all the rituals and approached home affairs to change my particulars accordingly.”
He said the Nxuba Municipality had advertised the position of municipal manager “and no appointment has been made yet, but at the panel I disclosed to them who I am”.
He said since his appointment as Nxuba’s acting municipal manager he had suspended four officials for “misconduct related to corruption and I understand there is a group of people who are working very hard to get me out of this municipality because they fear I will catch them”.