Flowers and cards outside the Clareinch Post Office on the day of Uyinene Mrwetyana’s funeral. It is believed to be the scene of her rape and murder. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA

Pretoria  - The South African Post Office (SAPO) is committed to getting to the bottom of the circumstances that led to the appointment of the employee charged with the murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, the SAPO said on Saturday.

"From the moment the police made contact with us in relation to their leads that Uyinene was last seen going to the post office, the SA Post Office management and staff have been actively involved in assisting with the investigation," SAPO board member Dr Charles Nwaila said in a statement.

The Clareinch Post Office was closed for business to allow the police forensic investigation teams to conduct their work unhindered. In addition to the dedicated sub-committee convened by the board to investigate the circumstances surrounding the appointment of the implicated employee, the post office management conducted a preliminary investigation whose findings had been shared with Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, he said.

The preliminary investigation and the findings confirmed that the alleged perpetrator’s employment did not follow the routine SAPO recruitment process, because his entry into SAPO was through a temporary employment agency, otherwise referred to as labour brokers. In 2012, he, among other temporary staff, was absorbed into SAPO. SAPO confirmed that at the time there was no screening of these employees as they were already in the system via labour brokers. 

"However, when this group of employees were offered permanent part-time employment contracts in 2013, the implicated employee submitted his CV as well as qualifications and declared that he had no previous criminal convictions," Nwaila said.

During 2016, the implicated employee was appointed into a permanent teller position. During this time he had signed another declaration confirming that he did not have any criminal record. He also affirmed an oath required by the SAPO Act committing to be honest and trustworthy, and to act in accordance with the law. 

"When SAPO took over the [South African Social Security Agency] Sassa grants payments in 2018, all current customer-facing and other key employees were subjected to SSA personnel suitability screening. Out of the 13,000 employees, SSA had found 300 records of which 174 were convictions in which the implicated employee was one of them. His conviction related to a 1998 carjacking conviction with an eight year sentence, of which five years were served with three years suspended," he said.

These findings were made available to SAPO officials in June 2018, but the information was not disclosed to the executive and board. SAPO was investigating the circumstances that led to the information not been shared with the executive and board.

Currently, the results of the SSA vetting exercise were being reviewed and should any action be taken it would follow proper due process. In the event that the internal investigations revealed that there was wrongdoing by any official, proportionate action would be taken. SAPO would announce the details of any action taken, which would be informed by the internal processes.

"It is shameful for us that our name, and by extension, the name of our shareholder and that of our government, are associated with such gruesome criminality. Consequently, on the basis of the findings of the preliminary report, we have identified a list corrective actions that will be carried out urgently," Nwaila said.

African News Agency/ANA