1,159 ghost workers disappear at Prasa

Mbalula says ‘employees’ vanished after Operation Ziveze

- By Penwell Dlamini

About 1,159 “employees” vanished from the payroll system of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) in a single day when the parastatal launched “Operation Ziveze” to crack down on ghost workers last year.

The disappeara­nce of these people saved Prasa R200m in salaries that were paid to people who were earning salaries but not doing any work for the agency. Prasa also noticed that its salary bill had dropped by R20m a month during the investigat­ions.

This was revealed by transport minister Fikile Mbalula when he briefed the media on the preliminar­y investigat­ions on ghost workers at Prasa.

Prasa launched the investigat­ions last year through Operation Ziveze after discoverin­g 3,100 ghost employees. Workers were asked to voluntaril­y come forward for verificati­on.

Out of 17,268 employees at Prasa, 14,268 presented themselves with documentat­ion for verificati­on and 1,159 simply disappeare­d from the system.

Those who vanished included the lowest paid worker up to assistant managers. A total of 3,000 employees failed to present themselves for the verificati­on process.

Mbalula said Prasa then hired a service provider to establish if these were indeed ghost employees and to identify weaknesses in its system.

He said the investigat­ion was conducted with the support of home affairs, Sars, Umalusi, and South African Qualificat­ions Authority.

Mbalula said the investigat­ion flagged 2,143 people as possible ghost employees or employees masqueradi­ng as somebody else who had submitted fraudulent qualificat­ions and some with “serious criminal offences”.

“The investigat­ion also revealed a number of instances where ID photos did not match the face of employees. This has triggered further investigat­ions… This form of corruption cannot be characteri­sed as anything other than stealing from the taxpayer.

“This is conduct we must all frown upon and encourage law enforcemen­t agencies to act with necessary speed to unleash the full might of the law on those hell-bent on stealing public funds,” Mbalula said.

He said the Special Investigat­ing Unit (SIU) had been brought in to investigat­e as Prasa believed those who resigned could be working with someone inside the company.

Prasa board member Adv Smanga Sethene said at the moment, the person who removed the ghost workers from the system is unknown.

“As to who removed them in the system, that is the subject of investigat­ions. We had a discussion with the head of SIU last week. It is certainly someone from within Prasa.

“As to how long have these people been in the system, that is also the matter that we thought SIU will be well capacitate­d to investigat­e. In no time, the minister [Mbalula] will convene to give you an update on that,” Sethene said.

Mbalula said: “We are cleaning up the place and those crooks who are in the system, we have an appointmen­t with them.

“The are going to fall. Obviously, something like this cannot be done by one person. It is a scam, an operation, it is a syndicate.”

 ?? / FREDDY MAVUNDA ?? Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says Prasa has saved R200m in salaries after ghost workers disappeare­d into thin air.
/ FREDDY MAVUNDA Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says Prasa has saved R200m in salaries after ghost workers disappeare­d into thin air.

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