UN­TOUCH­ABLE’ SE­NIOR GOVT OF­FI­CIAL STILL NOT CHARGED 10 MONTHS LATER

Sunday Observer - - NEWS - By ZWELETHU DLAMINI Whip Reg­u­la­tions

Asenior of­fi­cial un­der the min­istry of pub­lic works and trans­port al­legedly dam­aged a gov­ern­ment car about 10 months ago and de­lib­er­ately failed to re­port it.

In fact, the of­fi­cial boldly and proudly told any­one who asked about the in­ci­dent that he was not go­ing to re­port it, claim­ing he was un­touch­able.

This as­ser­tion is now be­lieved by the ju­nior of­fi­cials within the min­istry as be­ing true fol­low­ing that the mat­ter in­volv­ing the se­nior of­fi­cial has been in­ves­ti­gated for the past eight months with­out any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion be­ing taken against him.

“He was ask­ing us what had hap­pened since we re­ported the ve­hi­cle abuse. He said noth­ing will hap­pen, cit­ing that no hear­ing has been staged af­ter the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion which pointed to him,” said one of the of­fi­cials.

The of­fi­cials said they had no re­sponse see­ing as the of­fi­cial was not fac­ing any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion for the abuse and fail­ure to re­port the ac­ci­dent.

Other of­fi­cials won­dered what was stop­ping the law from tak­ing its course as a re­port was sub­mit­ted to the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary on the mat­ter.

Early in the year, the min­istry of pub­lic works and trans­port launched a probe over a miss­ing gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cle that was last au­tho­rised to a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial within the min­istry.

Launch­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, CTA Gen­eral Trans­port Man­ager Wash­ing­ton Khumalo in April said he had re­ceived a let­ter from the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, re­quir­ing him to ex­plain how the ve­hi­cle dis­ap­peared.

“It is a fact that the ve­hi­cle has dis­ap­peared, and I re­cently en­quired about it. I just re­ceived the let­ter from the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary seek­ing clar­ity and facts on the mat­ter,” he said at the time.

Khumalo stated that he was out of the coun­try on the day the ve­hi­cle was re­leased and as such he was not in­stantly aware of the of­fi­cer who had re­quested the car but gave as­sur­ance that by the next day, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion would be con­cluded.

“I was in South Africa and I had left some­one to act in my po­si­tion.

“I will have to launch my own in­ves­ti­ga­tions and think by three or four af­ter lunch, I would have es­tab­lished what re­ally took place on the 15th of Fe­bru­ary or there­about as the date is sub­ject to con­fir­ma­tion,” he said.

Khumalo said the probe would pro­vide clar­ity on who was the last to get au­tho­ri­sa­tion to use the ve­hi­cle, to which des­ti­na­tion and its mis­sion wher­ever it was, as well as who had au­tho­rised it. The se­nior of­fi­cer be­ing probed is al­leged to have on Fe­bru­ary 15, 2018 re­quested for author­ity to cross the bor­der to Mozam­bique, though it is un­clear whether the trip was of­fi­cial or not.

The min­istry has been with­out the ve­hi­cle reg­is­tered GSD 129 CT since mid-Fe­bru­ary to this day af­ter al­legedly be­ing au­tho­rised by the deputy gen­eral trans­port man­ager who was stand- ing in for Khumalo when he was out of the coun­try.

The ve­hi­cle was re­port­edly in­volved in an ac­ci­dent while in Mozam­bique, and the of­fi­cer and his driver al­legedly sus­tained mi­nor in­juries.

Af­ter in­tense in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the min­istry of pub­lic works and trans­port found the re­mains of the gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cle that was al­legedly last au­tho­rised to a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial who failed to re­turn and re­port it as per the stores’ reg­u­la­tions.

Min­istry of Pub­lic Works and Trans­port Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Makhosini Mn­dawe con­firmed the break­through in July and promised to crack the whip.

“The car has been found, we are now car­ry­ing out the as­sess­ment of the dam­age since we have re­cently found it. Once the as­sess­ment re­port is out, all the reg­u­la­tions per­tain­ing to the au­tho­ri­sa­tion and re­port­ing of gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cles will be im­ple­mented.

We will di­vulge who was driving it and whether he had the author­ity and if there was crim­i­nal­ity it will be dealt with ac­cord­ingly,” he said in July.

The PS stated that the dam­age of the ve­hi­cle was ex­ten­sive.

He em­pha­sised that the law was to be fol­lowed to the let­ter, adding that he would like to see jus­tice be­ing done as the min­istry was against the mis­use of gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cles.

The of­fi­cer who was au­tho­rised to use the ve­hi­cle was said to have vi­o­lated the stores reg­u­la­tions which re­quire that the ac­ci­dent should have been re­ported within 24 hours.

The pro­ce­dure in­volves fill­ing in an ac­ci­dent form ac­com­pa­nied by a po­lice re­port. How­ever, in this case, all of these doc­u­ments are not avail­able.

Po­lice at the time said the ve­hi­cle had not been re­ported to them, ei­ther as miss­ing or be­ing in­volved in an ac­ci­dent. Sources are of the view that the flout­ing of the pro­ce­dure was de­lib­er­ate as there were al­legedly moves to re­place the ve­hi­cle with another one within the min­istry of pub­lic works and trans­port. Mn­dawe when called this week said there was soon to be a hear­ing of the of­fi­cer con­cerned and once again, promised that ac­tion would be taken on the mat­ter.

He could not, how­ever, ex­plain what has caused the de­lay re­gard­ing the dis­ci­plinary process of the of­fi­cer.

Staff mem­bers from Ezul­wini Spar pose for a pic­ture with their new uni­forms for this fes­tive sea­son. All the branches coun­try­wide will be us­ing these uni­forms.

The dam­aged car re­pair. that would cost ap­prox­i­mately E300 000 to

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