By JULIA DAIA BORE
THE Department of Justice and Attorney-General’s former acting secretary, Hitelai Polume-Kiele, has resigned after almost 20 years with the department.
But it appears she resigned last Tuesday (Jan 26), about the time when the department was serving four disciplinary charges on her, including 24 allegations of insubordination, negligence of duty, and improper conduct.
One of them alleges misappropriation of more than K47,000 in overseas travelling allowances.
Attorney-General (AG) Dr Alan Marat, who confirmed the charges, said Mrs Polume-Kiele would be investigated for alleged non-acquittals since 2008.
He said she has been charged with “continuous insubordination” to take directions from her superiors, including himself.
Mrs Polume-Kiele, when contacted late on Sunday, said:
“It’s nothing new.
“The charges are all malicious allegations relating to the same issues between me (as secretary at that time) and Dr Marat as AG.
“It concerns disciplinary issues of staff within the Solicitor-General’s office,” she said.
When asked about the K47,000 misappropriation charges laid against her, she said: “There is no story to it. If there is any outstanding, I have repaid it all and have acquitted it all, too.”
Dr Marat said Mrs Polume-Kiele, who until Jan 26 was one of the two deputy secretaries, was charged and given her charges at 3.30pm on Jan 26.
Initially, she allegedly refused to accept the charges from two human resources personnel who were serving her with the documents.
They returned to department secretary Dr Lawrence Kalinoe who sent them back to her for acknowledgement of receipt of the documents pertaining to the charges. This time, however, she relented.
Dr Marat told The National: “This is the sort of insubordination I continue to receive from Mrs Polume-Kiele”.
He also confirmed that she resigned “with effect on Jan 26” as stated in her letter dated on the same day, but the office received her resignation letter the next day.
The AG said Mrs Polume-Kiele’s resignation letter was questionable and they would continue the investigations and ensure she answered the charges.
On receiving the charges, Mrs Polume-Kiele reimbursed K19,550 to the department and she said this was all that she owed in outstanding overseas allowances.
But according to Dr Marat, the K19,550 reimbursement is a sign of admission of the allegation, and the action (reimbursement) “cannot right a wrong that has been alleged against her”.
“She is required to answer to the series of charges by today
(Feb 2) and then a formal investigation is to be carried out by the department secretary,” Dr Marat said.