‘Clever thieves’ at the Island

2014-07-15 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Staff at the Robben island museum are stealing from the popular tourist destination in what has been termed “sophisticated theft” in Parliament.

The situation is so bad that the chair of the Robben Island museum council, Sibusiso Buthelezi, told MPs in Parliament’s portfolio committee on art and culture the thieves are stealing both the museum’s income and reputation.

He was submitting the museum’s budget and strategic plans to the MPs.

The committee chair however interrupted the delegation’s report on staff theft and said the committee could not hear complaints about employees. Mkhize was told museum management must handle these problems and report on the solutions to Parliament.

Sibongiseni Mkhize, head of the museum, yesterday told sister paper Die Burger the theft problem dates back to 2011.

“It entails financial irregularities, fraud, corruption and theft of property, like diesel.”

Mkhize said more than 20 disciplinary hearings had been instituted and more than half of them were for financial irregularities.

He could not say what amounts were involved in the thefts, because not all the theft was of cash, he said.

In the committee report by the parliamentary monitoring group (PMG) Buthelezi also wrote that some of the employees buy tickets to Robben Island in bulk and then sell space on the “sold out” boat trips privately at higher prices. He added the ferries that transport tourists to the island are sabotaged so that other boats have to be hired at high cost.

The museum has 305 employees, of whom 205 are permanent.

Mkhize referred to what he termed a “free-for-all” spirit among employees and said these employees may have been under the impression the managers are also stealing.

He stressed in answer to a question that all the employees who had been involved in the irregularities had already been dismissed.

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