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Johannesburg - The government has come under stinging criticism for paying R24.5 million to dozens of public servants who are sitting at home doing nothing.

The Defence and Military Veterans Department paid out R15 809 504 to its 31 suspended employees, while eight other departments coughed up a combined R8 710 252.

Some of the suspended officials have been sitting at home for periods that range between four months and 11 years.

This was disclosed in written replies by various ministers in response to questions posed by the Freedom Front Plus in the past two months.

The FF+’s Pieter Groenewald said on Sunday it was worrying that management took so long to haul defaulting employees before disciplinary hearings.

“We acknowledge the labour relations laws, but the fact of the matter is that some managements take too long to take corrective steps against public servants who contravene the rules.

“This is totally unacceptable and a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money,” Groenewald said.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans leads with the highest number of officials on suspension, followed by the Department of Home Affairs.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said 23 soldiers and eight civilians were on suspension in June. 

“An amount of R17 169 717 has been paid to members and employees placed on leave on instruction,” she confirmed to MPs.

One of the soldiers had been paid R207 3621 since his suspension 11 years ago, she added.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said 23 employees, mainly junior staff, were on suspension as at June. 

“The total cost of days of service lost as a result of these suspensions is R106 8490,” he said.

“The National Treasury has forked out R2 348 246 for its four suspended officials, all top managers,” Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said his department had paid R198 733 to a senior manager who has been on suspension for three months.

Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor said six officials were on suspension, and that her department paid them R363 949 as at June 2018.

Minister of Women Bathabile Dlamini said her department paid R3 305 362 to four senior managers, and one of the officials had been on suspension for nearly two years.

Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said one official was on suspension in her department for more than three months.

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said two officials were on suspension in his department as at July. The officials, suspended with full pay, one in May 2017 and another in July 2017, had been paid a combined R2 687 736.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi reported on suspensions that cost his department R191 115.

The ministers of arts and culture, justice and correctional services, public enterprises, public works, communication, and telecommunications and postal services reported no suspensions.

Groenewald said the R24m spent on salaries of suspended officials could’ve been used on infrastructure development and provide much needed services.

“There are pressing needs that this money could’ve been spent on, instead of wasting it like this.”

Political Bureau