An investigation into the conduct of officials at the Tongaat Home Affairs office has revealed that the employees had used their cell phones during a power failure.
The officials were recorded and shown on social media using their private cell phones at the front desk of the Tongaat office on 10 January.
The video and the responses it attracted created an impression that the two officials were on their cell phones instead of attending to members of the public waiting to be served.
On the instruction of Home Affairs acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Manager Cyril Mncwabe investigated the matter. The officials have subsequently been given written warnings.
During the investigation, which included interviewing the officials, it was established that the office experienced a power failure on the day, leading to a break in service that lasted for approximately 20 minutes.
The officials resumed work and served clients as soon as the system was restored.
On the strength of the information gathered, the department has concluded that the cell phone incident at the Tongaat office occurred during the 20-minute break in service and that it did not directly impact on service delivery to clients.
The break in service was announced to clients.
“There were compelling reasons for the two officials to use their cell phones during the service break but they should have excused themselves to attend to personal matters at the back office.
“The officials were granted an opportunity to present their side of the story. They said they used the break in service to attend to emergencies as they did not want to leave their posts. They wanted to be able to continue with their functions as soon as the system was back online.
“One official was arranging for a child to be picked up from school and the other one was following up on repairs to his vehicle. They were to work overtime on the day.
“The officials acknowledged their mistake and voluntarily apologised for the misjudgement.
“Since there are no pending misconduct cases or investigations against them, and they render services diligently, it was concluded that they be given a written warning for their actions,” the department said in a statement.
Mavuso said on the basis of the findings and recommendations, a second chance is justifiable in this regard “as it would encourage our officials to always exercise good judgement and adhere religiously to departmental policies”.
“Mncwabe, the Home Affairs provincial manager, will continue to ensure that the officials adhere to the policy on the use of cell phones during working hours,” the department said. – SAnews.gov.za