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Only 13 of 138 'corrupt' water officials have been dismissed

13 May 2020 - 20:23 By ZINGISA MVUMVU
Water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu and acting DG Mbulelo Tshangana briefed the media on Wednesday about the department's campaign to root out corruption.
Water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu and acting DG Mbulelo Tshangana briefed the media on Wednesday about the department's campaign to root out corruption.
Image: 123rf.com/Riccardo Lennart Niels Mayer

A staggering 138 officials in the department of water and sanitation department were found guilty of corruption, fraud and maladministration - but just 13 have been dismissed.

This was revealed by minister Lindiwe Sisulu and acting director-general (DG) Mbulelo Tshangana during a media briefing on the department's "clean up" campaign on Wednesday.

Of the 138 officials, 11 were at senior management, while the rest were at the level of general workers and middle management.

The 13 who were dismissed all fall within the general workers and middle management level. No senior management officials have been fired.

Breaking down the numbers, Tshangana lauded forensic investigators from the department's internal "stabilisation committee", saying the high number of guilty verdicts proved a "good success rate".

Only two senior management officials who were accused of corruption were cleared.

Some of the officials were suspended without pay, while others had been slapped with final written warnings.

Over and above the 13 officials who were sent packing, Tshangana said others had resigned. They would still be pursued through the criminal justice system, with 21 cases opened with the police.

"Out of the 138 officials that have been found guilty, we have 11 who are at senior management level. About 86 officials who were found guilty are ... general workers and middle management," said Tshangana.

"There were people who were dismissed, for instance 13 people were dismissed . There were demotions, there were warning letters and final written warning letters and suspensions of three months, one month, two months and 15 days respectively.

"All suspensions are without pay because we want to hit the pocket, where it will hurt the most. That talks to consequence management."

The corruption relates to the department's R16bn irregular expenditure and R1.7bn fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Tshangana said the department was acting to convince the National Treasury to "condone" R10bn of the total accumulative irregular expenditure amount.

Sisulu said she had found the department "bankrupt" upon taking it over, thus blaming her predecessors. She said there had been no proper consequence management in the department.

"In my tenure as minister, attention will be paid - special attention, because this is a very important matter. We would like to have a department that is as free of corruption as possible, because that is what we represent," she said.

"We promised that we will do anything to push back on perceived corruption. This was welcomed by the portfolio committee. The money that we were given this year was on loan because we were already a bankrupt department."

Sisulu said it was for this reason that immediately after taking over, the department focussed on tackling all cases relating to fraud, corruption and maladministration.

There were 161 officials who stood accused of corruption when Sisulu took over, she claimed.

"Dealing with these cases has taken a better part of my administration's work. We prioritised the cases that we thought were essential," she said.

The minister said investigations to uproot corruption in the department would not end with the 138 guilty verdicts. The process had now moved to a stage of where it would be handled by a contracted team of lawyers, led by advocate Terry Motau, to allow the minister and the DG to get on with the department's service delivery mandate.