Whistle-blower and witness protection gets urgent attention in Gauteng

09 September 2021 - 15:02
Gauteng premier David Makhura. File photo.
Gauteng premier David Makhura. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Gauteng premier David Makhura says the protection of whistle-blowers and witnesses is  receiving urgent attention at a national and provincial level.

Makhura said his office was working with the Gauteng ethics and anti-corruption council on a report about the state of ethics and integrity promotion in the province. He said it would be released at the end of September.

The Gauteng provincial legislature standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Thursday received the provincial forensic investigation report from Makhura's office.

“We are still receiving updates from institutions and departments to ensure it reflects accurately on the implementation of our integrity management policy framework and anti-corruption strategy as outlined in this update to Scopa,” he said.

Chief director for integrity management Mildred Nkopane said all members of the executive council were undergoing lifestyle audits by the State Security Agency (SSA) in line with the framework developed by the national government.

“We expect the process to be completed by the end of November this year. A national framework had to be developed by the presidency first so that there is a uniform application across government,” she said.

She said the next lifestyle audit would involve heads of the department and CEOs of provincial government entities.

“The intention is to extend this process to all the members of the senior management service and those officials in high-risk areas,” she said.

Nkopane said to date, 83% of senior management services (SMS) members and supply chain management (SCM) officials had either completed vetting or were awaiting the outcome of their vetting.

She said 17% of SMS and SCM officials had not applied or submitted forms for vetting. Accounting officers were directed to institute action against officials who resisted or refused to be vetted, she said.

“It is important that all officials undergo vetting to reduce risk or detect potential or actual conflict of interest as well as unethical behaviour.”

Nkopane said the office of the premier had reported a number of matters to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

“Seven complaints from the Gauteng provincial government referred to the SIU and three additional complaints were submitted by whistle-blowers directly to the SIU. Three proclamations were issued,” she said.

According to the report, the Department of Health recorded 32.9% of the total cases received.

Nkopane said the top five category of cases reported for investigation involved procurement irregularities, fraud, human resources irregularities, mismanagement of funds and corruption.

Makhura said despite the setbacks such as Covid-19 corruption and the murder of whistle-blowers, the provincial government would not retreat in the fight against corruption.

He said 82.1% of all recommendations coming from different forensic investigations were either fully implemented or being implemented, while 17.9% were lagging behind.

“There are 147 criminal cases opened, 69 civil claims lodged, 517 disciplinary processes instituted and R616m being recovered,” he said.

He said the office was working with the Public Service Commission, SIU, public protector, Asset Forfeiture Unit, commercial crimes unit and the auditor-general to fight corruption and build an ethical public service.

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