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Six senior public servants paid more than R12 million while sitting at home

Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 14, 2022

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Pretoria - The DA is demanding answers from the Presidency and Acting Minister of Public Service and Administration Thulas Nxesi after six senior public servants were collectively paid more than R12 million while sitting at home.

The DA expressed concern after written replies from Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele confirming that at least six officials, including the suspended Free State’s head of department of human settlements Nthimotse Mokhesi had been receiving their monthly salaries while on suspension.

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Mokhesi faces fraud and corruption charges with suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and businessman Edwin Sodi, in relation to the R250 million asbestos contract scandal awarded to Sodi.

DA Public Service and Administration spokesperson, Dr Mimmy Gondwe, had asked Gungubele for details on heads of departments on suspension with full pay and “at what cost to the taxpayer”.

In his reply, Gungubele said in the Northern Cape, Ruth Palm, head of the department for sports, arts and culture, was facing fraud charges. She was suspended in September 2020, and had been paid more than R2 million.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Dr GG Sharpley – head of the department of public works – was placed on precautionary suspension from November 2020. “He is facing misconduct charges relating to the appointment of a consultant. The government had paid Sharpley more than R2.3 million.”

The Free State government had already paid Mokhesi more than R3.4 million, said Gungubele.

Another Free State official, SS Mtakati – head of the department of sports, arts and culture – has been on precautionary suspension for charges relating to tender irregularities since May last year. Mtakati was paid more than R1.9 million.

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In Mpumalanga, the suspended head of the department of human settlements Kebone Masange has been paid more than R1.3 million since his suspension in April last year. Masange faces charges of gross negligence, Gungubele said. But Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, court records show Masange is facing charges of fraud, possession of fraudulent documents and contravention of the Immigration Act.

Masange allegedly used fraudulent documents to apply for the post. He is accused along with Mpumalanga director of public prosecutions Matric Luphondo – who allegedly aided him to make criminal charges disappear.

Another Mpumalanga official, Busisiwe Nkuna – HOD of Community Safety, Security and Liaison – was suspended in June last year for allegedly refusing to carry out an instruction from Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane and had been paid R1.1 million.

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Gondwe has vowed to write to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on public service and administration, Tyotyo James, to summon Gungubele and Nxesi, to come and account for the broken discipline management system in the public service.

“They must provide firm timelines … to ensure the expeditious management of disciplinary cases, in the public service to avoid an undue burden and costs being placed on the South African taxpayer,” Gondwe said.

She said the inordinate delays in finalising disciplinary cases in the public service have become a recurring problem with no discernible action by the ANC government to fix the problem. “It is extremely unfair for taxpayers to continuously pay for failure.”

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Pretoria News

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