Patricia de Lille's sister resigns from ministry job amid nepotism claims

30 September 2019 - 17:15 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
Patricia de Lille's sister, Cynthia Jeffreys, has resigned from a position in the public works and infrastructure ministry amid an investigation into her appointment.
Patricia de Lille's sister, Cynthia Jeffreys, has resigned from a position in the public works and infrastructure ministry amid an investigation into her appointment.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille's sister, Cynthia Jeffreys, resigned from her job in the ministry just 11 weeks after her appointment.

This comes amid a nepotism investigation by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Jeffreys was appointed as assistant appointment secretary in De Lille's office in July and resigned on September 20, according to De Lille's spokesperson Zara Nicholson.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, De Lille asserts that proper recruitment processes were followed in the appointment of her sister to the ministry, in accordance with the Public Service Regulations of 2016. The regulations cited deal with the filling of posts in the office of ministers and deputy ministers.

She was responding to a question from DA MP Samantha Jane Graham, who had asked De Lille whether proper processes were followed in the appointment, including whether the candidate had the requisite skills and competencies for the position.

Both Graham and De Lille did not mention Jeffreys by name in the correspondence, but TimesLIVE independently established the identity of the employee in question.

In her reply, De Lille reveals that the position was not advertised, citing a regulation that she said provided for this. However, she said Jeffreys was subjected to an interview process to determine her suitability to the position.

Jeffreys had 14 years of experience as a secretary, receptionist and administrator, and was appointed with the relaxation of qualifications in accordance with Regulation 39 of the Public Service Regulations of 2016, said De Lille.

Regulation 39 provides that an executive authority can establish a job description and job title that indicate, with appropriate emphasis on service delivery, the main objectives, activities and functions of the post or posts in question and the inherent requirements of the job.

De Lille added that the responsibility to approve candidates lies with the director-general and that the relaxation of inherent requirements was a standard practice in the public service.

She said recruitment of personnel was based on merit and the experience they bring to the job. “It is not a requirement for HR recruitment to establish whether candidates are related to any of those already in employment,” she said, confirming that “the said person is related to the minister”.

“She has since resigned from her position, stating ethical reasons,” she added.

The Sowetan previously quoted Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, who confirmed that the public protector had received a complaint of alleged nepotism and interference with supply-chain processes against De Lille.

At the time, the minister said she was convinced that the anonymous complainants against her were corrupt elements in the department that she was busy dealing with.

She said she would co-operate with Mkhwebane in her investigation of the complaint.


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