Monday, September 21, 2009

More than 200 criminals in public service

A probe by the Public Service Commission (PSC), released last week, has found that 223 public servants, employed full-time, have criminal records for offences ranging from fraud and corruption to drunken driving. The National Treasury featured the highest number employees with criminal records.

The remaining majority in Public Service, who don’t have criminal records, lack the required skills to do their work efficiently. For 15 years now these same grievances crop up, --- year in and year out: Failure to provide promised services, corruption, corruption and more corruption and more promises that things will improve.

When is this farce going to end, and for how long must tax-paying-law-abiding South Africans put up with this?

When “customer care” departments don’t even bother answering the phone or to respond to emails, --- then surely there must be something wrong, or am I just paranoid?

More than 200 convicts in public service
By Xolani Mbanjwa
Political Bureau

A probe by the Public Service Commission (PSC) has found that 223 public servants, employed full-time, have criminal records for offences ranging from fraud and corruption to drunken driving.

In its report on the investigation, released last week, the commission recommends that employment guidelines be amended to deal with such cases and states that vetting procedures are "inconsistent" across government.

Of the 223 state employees with criminal records, the majority - 166, or 74 percent - were employed in national departments, while 57 (26 percent) worked for provincial departments.

Fifty of the employees were female (22 percent) while 173 (78 percent) were males.

The National Treasury featured the highest number employees with criminal records.

But Treasury officials informed the commission that most of the 49 employees had been convicted of traffic offences, such as negligent driving or failing to pay traffic fines, while "a small number" had convictions relating to fraud and corruption.

The Department of Correctional Services, with 36 employees, had the second highest number of staff members with criminal records.

When it came to provincial departments, the Northern Cape had the highest number of employees with criminal records (23), followed by the Free State with 16 and the Western Cape with 10.

Of the 166 public servants at provincial level, 72 had been in government employment since 2005.

Ten were in senior management positions, 19 were clerks or administrators and 15 were engaged in "safeguarding or security" positions.

The majority of convictions involved drunken and reckless driving (21 people), assault (16) and theft (14). The Department of Public Service and Administration - which is responsible for the hiring of public servants - downplayed the commission's findings.

Department spokesperson Sefako Nyaka said the department employed more than a million public servants but only 223 were found with criminal records.

"The statistics prove that government puts stringent measures to ensure that applicants who get employed in the public service do not have criminal records.

"However, the PSC report brings to light the necessity for government to close the loopholes or administrative bungles which lead to applicants with criminal records coming into the public service employment," said Nyaka.

The commission said it was "critical" to assess job applicants' criminal records as the public service had to be accountable and transparent in its actions.

It recommended that the government develop "comprehensive" norms and standards on employing people with criminal records.

It also called for the drafted amendment to Public Service Regulations to provide guidelines on how to manage such norms.

The government's job application form, the Z83, also needed to be reviewed to require applicants to state whether or not they had criminal records, it said.

"Criminal record checks are done in an inconsistent manner across departments.

"Thus, departments need to adhere to criteria provided by the National Intelligence Agency in its guidelines on personnel suitability checks," said the report.

The commission said government departments had reported that the turnaround time for feedback on checks as to whether applicants had criminal records took between 18 days and a month, which was "unacceptable".

It said the vetting process was not meant to ban from employment people with criminal records, but to "to assess the potential impact this may have on the job requirement and on the organisation as a whole". Source


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