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Big push in the Western Cape to keep crooked government employees out of office

The Western Cape legislature building. File picture: Leon Lestrade

The Western Cape legislature building. File picture: Leon Lestrade

Published May 27, 2022

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Cape Town - There is a big push to keep crooked government employees from seeping back into the civil service after they were found guilty of crimes related to their work.

The Provincial Forensic Services (PFS) said that it’s keeping tabs on provincial government employees involved in criminality – but who then resign, only to reapply for other government posts – in order to keep them out of public service.

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In the last six months, the PFS has received 50 cases for investigation and finalised 60 others.

PFS chief director Ruthven Janse van Rensburg said that at the end of September last year, when the previous financial year closed, the PFS had 19 cases in hand, 12 of which were under investigation.

Van Rensburg told members of the legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that if such people leave government service the PFS continues to pursue them.

He said that electronic records of their wrongdoing were kept on a national file system to prevent their re-employment.

“If they are found guilty in the criminal justice system, then they have a conviction. If they try to come back to the public service, there is a vetting procedure in place with recruitment and selection and they are not readmitted.”

He said if such a person had left government service, the PFS makes a recommendation to the department concerned to confirm that they have flagged the contravention on the personnel system, which is national.

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Van Rensburg was briefing Scopa on the first and second quarter’s forensic investigations for the 2021/22 financial year across all departments and entities of the province.

The presentation covered the work that the PFS has done for the first half of the previous financial year.

Scopa members Andricus van der Westhuizen (DA) and Melikhaya Xego (EFF) had asked Van Rensburg about the status of five criminal cases from the last six months involving Province employees who were investigated and lodged with the Hawks for action.

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The departments involved were health, education and agriculture, with three of the cases linked to the Department of Health.

PFS recommended criminal action via the police in the five cases finalised during the first and second quarters of 2021/2022.

Van Rensburg said that the five cases had only been reported to the police fairly recently and that by financial year-end they were still under investigation and in process towards the National Prosecuting Authority.

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Van Rensburg said most of the investigations in progress as at September 30, 2021 were as a result of departmental referrals.

However, two were as a result of tipoffs using the particular department’s internal tip-off line. He did not name the specific departments but said that by March 31, all the cases except two had been closed.

The two still open are a departmental referral from the department of transport and public works, involving alleged corruption and fraud and the other involves alleged financial irregularities which was sent to the PFS as a Western Cape Education Department (WCED) departmental referral.

As for the cases finalised between 1 April, 2021 - 30 September 2022, there was one of alleged corruption at the health department which was investigated with the outcome that there was fraud and irregularity to the tune of R217 850 in a case of possible irregular expenditure.

The health department also had a case finalised in that period dealing with fraud, corruption and non-compliance with financial implications of R324 033.71 due to what was classed as possible irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The Western Cape Education Department had a matter dealing with theft and fraud to the tune of R344 290.

He said the PFS followed up the matters every quarter with the Hawks to establish the status of the cases and also to establish whether there is any further assistance that the PFS can provide.

“But the five cases were still ongoing investigations and they have not reached the court stage yet.”

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