Exodus of senior staff from prisons

2010-11-28 14:07

Insiders at the Department of Correctional Services say there has been a systematic departure of senior officials since Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was appointed as minister 19 months ago.

Former general secretary of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union Abbey Witbooi quietly resigned from his position as Mapisa-Nqakula’s chief of staff barely six months after he had been appointed. Witbooi left the department last December. Mapisa-Nqakula appointed him after last year’s elections.

A source close to Witbooi told City Press the former unionist ­departed after clashing with Mapisa-Nqakula over procurement in the department.

Witbooi would say only that “things did not work out between myself and the minister”.

Witbooi was replaced by ­Gcinumzi Ntlakana, who was a senior home affairs official when Mapisa-Nqakula was minister.

When Witbooi was still at the correctional services department Ntlakana was Mapisa-Nqakula’s political adviser; a position now held by another former home ­affairs official, Mike Ramagoma.

Witbooi is not the only senior official to have left the department.

Chief deputy commissioner Teboho Motseki and human resources development deputy commissioner Mpfariseni Mudau left the department after alleged harassment. Mudau was even hospitalised twice for depression. Another chief deputy commissioner, Alfred Tsetsane, faced a disciplinary hearing two weeks ago.

Mudau left the department last month, having joined last year ­before Mapisa-Nqakula’s arrival.

His position was given to deputy commissioner Linda Bond, who had been responsible for human resources management.

The position vacated by Bond was advertised three weeks ago.

Another senior official allegedly fired by Mapisa-Nqakula is former chief of staff in then deputy minister Hlengiwe Mkhize’s office, Jabu Sishuba. His case is with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesperson, Sonwabo Mbananga, said Witbooi, Motseki and Mudau all resigned of their own accord.

Witbooi left to pursue “his own interests” and Motseki to complete his MBA studies, while Mudau did not give any reason.

Mbananga would not say why Tsetsane had faced a disciplinary hearing, as it was sub judice.

“It is rubbish to say the minister is purging senior officials she found at the department.”

Mbananga said that Mapisa-Nqakula had never fired anyone, but she had the right to assemble an executive management team.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi is continuing with an ­investigation into the inflated pay of correctional services national commissioner Tom Moyane.

In May Mapisa-Nqakula controversially increased Moyane’s salary to R1 462?980 – R164?000 more than what is earned by directors-general of other departments.

Mbananga said that it was above board for the minister to have raised Moyane’s salary.

“The national commissioner is not employed under the Public Service Act but the Correctional Service Act, which empowers the minister to determine his conditions of service.”

Mbananga said Moyane was already at director-general level when he was chief executive of the Government Printing Works, where he earned more than R1.2?million a year.

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