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17 October 2012 at 15:58 - Posted by Midrand

Correctional Services 'soft on criminal officials' - SANEWS


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The Department of Correctional Services has been hauled over the coals by its parliamentary oversight committee for keeping in its employ officials who commit criminal offences.

The chairman of the committee, ANC MP Vincent Smith, told a delegation of officials led by  Correctional Services' national commissioner, Tom Moyane, yesterday that it was unthinkable that employees guilty of a serious offence were merely given a slap on the wrist and sent back to their post.

According to the department's annual report for 2011-2012, 4171 cases of misconduct were recorded by the department, 421 of them considered serious.

Smith fumed when it emerged that only 183 employees had been fired.

"These department officials are committing gross offences, we dismissed 183 this year, 88 last year. If we continue in this fashion the sense of impunity in this department is not going to stop," he said.

The 421 serious offences referred to by Smith included 152 of theft, fraud and corruption, eight of sexual harassment and 41 of sleeping on the job.

There were 119 cases of officials being drunk or on drugs while on duty, and 32 of officials being caught in possession of alcohol and/or drugs while on duty.

About 238 officers were charged with assault or threatening behaviour, and 385 with breaching security measures.

"You've given people written warnings, you've given people verbal warnings for offences that, if they were in the private sector, they would be locked up for, they would be arrested for these things," Smith said.

"What is happening in the department, national commissioner, that such things are happening on your watch?"

Moyane said that, as the accounting officer for Correctional Services, he took full responsibility for the problems in the department.

Lengthy internal legal processes, however, made it difficult to fire people," he said.

Chief deputy commissioner of human resources Teboho Mokoena said there was an unwritten rule that the decision of a presiding officer at a disciplinary hearing could not be challenged.

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