DURBAN - THE MSUNDUZI Municipality has moved to freeze the salaries of 121 people feared to be “ghost employees”.
It also revealed that until this month dead people and employees who had resigned still appeared on the city’s payroll. The city said it had conducted a physical headcount of employees.
Administrator Scelo Duma revealed that his office conducted a headcount of the city employees to ensure that all those being paid were existing employees.
He said while the investigations continued, he had given a directive for the salaries of the employees who failed to present themselves to be frozen.
His report on the issue revealed most of the employees, 25, were in the Parks, Sports and Cemeteries unit, 18 in Water and Sanitation, 17 in Waste Management, 12 in Human Resources and 10 in Political Support among others.
Duma said the physical verification of all employees of the municipality started on November 30 last year.
During the first verification period which ended on December 3, teams visited employees in their designated work stations.
In the second period, from December 14 to 18, outstanding employees were told to present themselves at City Hall.
Duma said the consolidation of information was completed on January 26 when it emerged that there were 368 employees who had not presented themselves.
In order to cater for employees who may have been on leave in December or unavailable for a variety of reasons, a third and final verification period was undertaken from January 29 to February 3.
“180 employees have thus far not presented themselves, however if we discount employees who are dead and those who have since resigned between October 1 2020 and February 19 2021, the number is reduced to 121.
“The 121 employees have had their salaries suspended as at February 24. The suspension will not be uplifted until the employees present themselves for verification.
“General managers have been asked to make arrangements for the verification of employees in their respective business units.
“Such verifications will be recognised only where evidence can be presented that the employee presented himself/herself in person, signed the attendance register and their identification documents collected.”
Duma said employees who would not have come forward by tomorrow despite the suspension of their salaries, would be regarded as non-existent and an investigation will have to be conducted into the matter.
“The administrator will be requesting HR to compile a separate report on the reasons for retaining in the payroll, employees who are dead and those who have resigned,” he said.
Councillors said they wanted to know how much the ghost employees had been costing the city.
ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand said it was with great concern that despite numerous calls for unverified employees to come forward, this still had not happened.
“It is to the administrator’s credit that he recommended that salaries for these ’employees’ be stopped. The question remains where are these people, who employed them and what has this cost the municipality? Criminal charges must be laid.”
DA councillor Sibongiseni Majola said he would wait for the final report to be presented before he could fully comment but stated that should these employees not be verified, criminal cases of fraud should be opened.
“Someone would have opened a file from these employees and send IDs to HR, that is fraud,” he said.
Other councillors also called for criminal charges to be opened with the police if the employees could not be found.