Durban - Public servants’ acceptance of bribes, even a packet of biscuits, has been thrown into the spotlight by a recent Durban Labour Court judgment which found that the value of the bribe was not of paramount importance.
Acting Labour Court Judge Connie Prinsloo was dealing with the case of Home Affairs data capturer Mathato Mokhele who claimed she was fired in 2007 after taking only one packet of Marie biscuits to provide a faster, preferential service.
Mokhele had been charged with misconduct and was dismissed after she pleaded guilty during her disciplinary hearing.
She took her matter to the bargaining council for arbitration and the arbitrator ruled in 2010 that her dismissal had been substantively fair. She approached the labour court to review the decision and in a judgment last week, Judge Prinsloo dismissed the matter with costs as she ruled that the arbitrator’s decision was reasonable.
Mokhele argued that she was charged with misconduct despite the department’s manual stating that only gifts worth R350 and above had to be declared. She said the department had not proved she accepted any gifts worth R350 and she should not have been disciplined.