Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Department of Trade and Industry has paid almost R6 million to 10 officials who has been on suspension with full pay - one of them for more than 750 days.

This was revealed by the Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel following written parliamentary questions from the DA’s spokesperson on Trade and Industry Mat Cuthbert in September.

Cuthbert wanted to know the total amount paid to the 10 officials after Patel had earlier confirmed that several of his suspended officials were receiving benefits including pay while on suspension for various offences.

In his reply in August, Patel said 10 officials were on paid suspension and  one of the officials had been on full pay suspension for 729 days at the time.

Two other officials, had been on paid suspension for 325 days and 235 days respectively.

Out of the 10 senior staff concerned there are two chief directors; one director; five deputy directors; one assistant director and one trade and investment advisor.

 All 10 of them faces charges ranging from alleged fraud, gross negligence and dishonesty.

Patel said the total amount paid to the officials was R5 867 579 saying “clearly, it is necessary to review the systems relating to disciplinary matters to enable a fair and expeditious process of completing such cases, as lengthy periods of suspension of staff on full pay is not in the interest of the public nor of the employees concerned.

“I have asked the Director General to consider appropriate ways, within the legislative framework and prescripts to avoid lengthy suspensions in future,” Patel said.

In his reaction, Cuthbert said his party was concerned that close to R6m is being paid to individuals while they sit at home.

“More needs to be done by the Minister and his team to expedite their disciplinary processes. Those who are found guilty need to be dismissed and those found not guilty need to get back to work.

“There needs to be a greater appreciation for the fact that public money is being wasted while officials are suspended with pay.

“Minister Patel has made a commitment to review the systems and processes surrounding disciplinary matters - now he needs to act on it,” Cuthbert said.

Political Bureau