The Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Mr Senzo Mchunu, said he has noted with serious concern reckless utterances by the Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament, Dr Leon Schreiber that the murder of University of Cape Town Student, Ms Uyinene Mrwetyana, was as a result of a collapsed Public Service.
The fact of the matter is that the issue was brought to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in the form of a Parliamentary question a month ago and the Department appropriately responded to it.
The Minister said the government is mindful of the constitutional provisions which may not permit an outright prohibition on the employment of persons with a criminal record.
“However, in an effort to ensure the suitable placement of employees with criminal records as well as to ensure the safety and well-being of other employees and the public generally, any candidate seeking employment within the State, is subjected to security checks, beginning with the filling of the Z83 form, among which they have to state whether they have criminal records.
“Subsequent to that, before employment, the successful candidates go through a screening process by the State Security Agency (SSA) to ensure that they do not have criminal records.
“The Department has also set up the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit established in terms of the Public Administration Management Act, to support a number of initiatives to address such matter,” he said.
The Minister for the Public Service and Administration issued a Directive on compulsory elements to be checked as part of Personnel Suitability Checks (PSC) before a prospective employee can be appointed in the Public Service.
Departments are required to consider this information, including criminal offences, when making an appointment.
Employees of the Post Office are not appointed in terms of the Public Service Act and therefore the Directive issued by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration that personnel suitability checks to be conducted on prospective employees does not apply to Post Office Staff.
However, the Minister concerned has taken action regarding the case in question and there have been consequences for all the parties involved.
The Public Administration Management Act establishes the Office of Standards. The functions of the Office include the evaluation of the appropriateness of norms and standards in relation to public administration and management and to advise the Minister for the Public Service and Administration on the determination of norms and standards and its enforcement. The management of criminal offences conducted by employees has already been identified as a matter that needs to be further pursued with the implementation of the Public Administration Management Act.
The Department of Public Service and Administration is also working with other relevant departments to ensure that all people who have criminal records do not slip through the system.
Minister Mchunu said the DA must desist from being desperate and clutching at straws in order to present a picture of anarchy in the Public Service.
“Sadly, a Portfolio Committee Meeting on Public Service and Administration was held yesterday and the matter was not part of the agenda. In the absence of sensational issues, Dr Schreider, therefore, saw a need to rehash matters that have already been dealt with,” he said.
Minister Mchunu is of the view that the issue of Ms Mrwetyana and many others of that nature should be treated with sensitivity and care in order to avoid re-opening old wounds among affected parties.