Thousands of Public Works officials probed for conflict of interest, only 7 disciplined

Patricia de Lille. Picture: Moneyweb

De Lille said the department is investing in fraud risk management strategies to maintain its vigilance to fraud and corruption.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probed the affairs of more than 4 000 officials in the department of public works and infrastructure for possible conflict of interest while only seven officials, alleged to have done business with the department, were disciplined.

This is according to Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille, who replied to a parliamentary question from DA MP Jan de Villiers.

De Villiers wanted details on the disciplinary steps taken against the more than 3 700 civil servants who were found to have conducted business with government.

De Lille said the department’s anti-corruption unit had informed her of investigations by the SIU.

She said 4 123 officials were investigated for possible conflict of interest.

“The department informed as a result of these investigations, disciplinary action was launched against seven officials who were alleged to have conducted business with the department. These cases have since been concluded. Six matters have been finalised while one matter is pending further investigation by the department’s labour relations unit,” De Lille said.

She said sanctions ranged from three final written warnings, one written warning and one two-month suspension from work without pay.

De Lille said the SIU withdrew one case after consultation with the department.

Other findings include:

  • seven individuals investigated were found not to have had an entity under their names; nine individuals in fact declared their interests to the department;
  • 1 968 officials were no longer employed by the department, either resigned from the department or acquired the interest in the entities after their resignation;
  • 38 officials disposed of their interest in outside entities before employment at the department;
  • 1 025 officials employed at the time of the investigation were found to have had entities registered under their respective names, but these entities did not conduct business with the department; and
  • 854 officials were found to have been employed by the department on a temporary contract (including those on learnership programmes) and were no longer employed by the department at the time of the investigation.

De Lille said an analysis of the SIU’s investigation indicates that the level of adverse findings is less than 1%.

“This is in part the result of increased vigilance and awareness in the department designed to prevent and deter the practice of conducting business with the department in an unauthorised manner. It also reflects on the changes in the Public Service regulatory framework, which has since outlawed public servants from conducting business with the state at all,” she said.

De Lille said the department is investing in fraud risk management strategies to maintain its vigilance to fraud and corruption.

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