Whistle-blowers fear being exposed

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Employees seem to be less willing to blow the whistle against corruption despite guarantees of protection against retaliations in the Protected Disclosure Act.

“Extensive media coverage of cases on the plight of whistle-blowers feed into the psyche of fear to blow the whistle,” Public Service Commission (PSC) Commissioner Michael Seloane said.

He was briefing members of the media on Thursday in Tshwane on the organisation’s quarterly bulletin titled: The Pulse of the Public Service.

“The senior managers are largely capable to decipher who blew the whistle in the organisations on their own wrongdoings. This is because of their familiarity with the internal idiosyncrasies of the behaviour of their organisations,” Seloane said.

During the 2018/2019 financial year, the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) registered a total of 51 581 incoming calls.

“Out of 51 581 incoming calls, only 1 278 case reports were generated. Of the 1 278 reports generated, the PSC closed 202 cases due to insufficient information. The remaining 1 076 were referred to departments for investigation,” Seloane said.

The PSC has investigated 97 cases relating to appointment and procurement irregularities and service delivery.

The commission observed that no cases were reported through the NACH against the Northern Cape Province during the 2018/2019. In addition, the commission noted a decline in the reporting of cases in Free State and Mpumalanga.

The majority of cases (727) received through the NACH during 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 were in respect of social grant fraud.

“These cases were referred to the South African Social Security Agency and closed on the Case Management System of the NACH as they fall outside the mandate of the PSC.

“The second highest number of cases (70) received during the period under review is appointment irregularities. This was followed by cases relating to unethical behaviour totalling 62,” Seloane said.

The other types of cases received were those relating to fraud and bribery (40), complaints (38), procurement irregularities (24), abuse of government resources (17), illegal immigration (15), abuse of power (10), maladministration (10) and those relating to corruption (10).

The lowest number of cases received during this period related to allegations of identity document fraud (3), undertaking remunerative work outside the public service (3), Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing related (2) and mismanagement of government funds (2).

Other types of cases received through the NACH during this period were service delivery complaints totalling 40 cases.

The impacts from the reports concluded and have been substantiated include:

  • Enhanced cash handling controls to improve physical security as well as the security surveillance of specific cash handling areas.
  • Mitigated future potential losses by identifying employee abuse of government resources.
  • Strengthened controls in accounts receivable collection processes.
  • Identification of opportunities to streamline the performance of an internal administrative function.
  • Disciplinary action including suspension and termination of contractor’s service.
  • Revised departmental recruitment process to ensure a fair, open and transparent process is available to all potential applicants.
  • Expanded management monitoring and use of exceptions reporting to verify compliance with specific internal authority.

As at the end of the first quarter (June 2019), 125 complaints were lodged with the PSC. Of the 125 complaints, 37 (30%) were finalised and 88 (70%) were pending.

“In the national departments, the Department of Correctional Services had the highest number of complaints (6), followed by the Department of Higher Education and Training (4), Departments of Water and Sanitation, the South African Police Service, Human Settlements, Rural Development and Land Reform had (3).

“Two complaints were received concerning the Department of Public Service and Administration and the Government Pensions Administration Agency. One complaint each was received from 11 departments,” he said.

The complaints relate to adherence to applicable personnel and public administration practices as well as procedures in the public service such as recruitment, appointment, transfer, discharge and other aspects of the careers of employees in the public service. - SAnews.gov.za