Nehawu has accused Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba of publicly vilifying an employee caught surfing social media sites while on duty. Picture Cindy Waxa/ANA

Johannesburg - The National Health and Allied Union (Nehawu) has accused Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba of publicly vilifying an employee caught on video surfing social media sites on her cellphone while executing her duties at the Beitbridge port of entry.

The video clip showing the employee flipping through her cellphone while stamping passports at the busy South Africa and Zimbabwe border post went viral on social media this week. Gigaba then tweeted that disciplinary action would be taken against the employee.

The public sector union criticised Gigaba for publicly rebuking the worker.

''We reject the vilifying of our member in public instead of subjecting her to an internal disciplinary process if the department believes that she has a transgression to answer to,'' the union said in a statement.

''Nehawu further condemns the continuous trial of our member in a court of public opinion, joined by the minister on his twitter handle. His utterances are a vote of no confidence on the internal processes of his own department.''

Read more: This is how badly Zimbabweans are treated at Beit Bridge border

The department said the employee would be disciplined along with her three supervisors.

Director-general Mkuseli Apleni said the incident violated cellphone usage policy at workstations.

''Of major concern to me is the fact that the official is dealing with security documents without paying attention to detail and rather preoccupied with her cellular phone. To this end, we have commenced with disciplinary measures against the official and the three supervisors,'' he said on Tuesday.

Also read: Action to be taken against 'preoccupied' Home Affairs official

Nehawu in turn decried their members' work conditions in the department.

''We have always been at the forefront of highlighting the horrible conditions our members work under. This includes huge workloads and long hours because the department refuses to fill funded vacant posts, especially in the ports of entry.'' 

Moreover, the department refuses to pay overtime yet they expect workers to be encouraged to put in extra effort. We hope that the same vigour displayed in vilifying our member will also be deployed when they have to ensure that our members are treated with dignity and that their bonuses are paid.''

African News Agency/ANA