Correctional Services national commissioner Arthur Fraser has suspended a senior departmental manager and charged him with misconduct for voicing on social media his shock over Angelo Agrizzi’s revelations at the state capture commission of inquiry which resulted in him being reluctant to vote or campaign for the governing ANC in the May 8 general elections.
In his defence, Themba Magagula, the regional head of corporate services, whipped out similar Facebook posts by a colleague, Azwihangwisi Nesengani, director of community liaison, showing that Fraser was being inconsistent in his application of the rules.
A legal opinion by the state attorney warned Fraser that, in light of Magagula’s valid defence, he might be opening Pandora’s box and the department might find itself “faced with a large number of offending employees” as Nesengani “might also bring forward Facebook posts by other employees”.
Magagula’s disciplinary hearing is scheduled for October 16; Nesengani is yet to be charged.
Agrizzi’s testimony in January at the commission revealed extensive allegations of corruption involving several government ministers, ANC MPs, journalists and, union officials, as well as how Bosasa colluded with senior officials for more than a decade to cook tender documents and score lucrative contracts with the state.
One Tuesday just before 9am in early March, Magagula, seemingly shattered by Agrizzi’s testimony, posted on social media.
He said: “I’m a staunch supporter and a card-carrying member of the beloved African National Congress. I have been voting [for] this movement since 1994 and had never missed even one of the national or provincial votes since democracy.
“I would even make sure that both my beloved parents, who are late now, get special votes at home and that they vote for the ANC. Furthermore, I would in the whole family including my siblings convince them why we should and are voting for the ANC.”
At the time it was about two months before the May general elections.
“I’m still not sure whether I [will] continue to vote for this beloved movement or not. I haven’t even started canvassing to my siblings as yet. I’m viewing voting the ANC as keeping the status quo. I love, trust and have confidence in our current President [Cyril] Ramaphosa.”
Next was his plea for Ramaphosa “to take urgent action on Correctional Services matters that were raised by Angelo Agrizzi”.
“There are no lies in what Agrizzi has revealed in the Zondo commission. Taking action on this will bring back the confidence and trust that we have in you Mr President, otherwise we will start to view you as a dog that barks but has no teeth to bite.”
He then wished Ramaphosa strength, adding: “I love the ANC and I can’t afford betraying it for the enemy.”
The department saw Magagula’s post and, subsequent to a legal opinion from the state attorney, Fraser put three charges of misconduct before him, including “bringing the department into disrepute; gross prejudice to the administration, discipline or efficiency of the department; and displaying a conflict of interest”.
Fraser accused Magagula of contravening the social media policy and SMS handbook, including posting “communication which may be interpreted as an official position and failing to try to resolve any complaint internally but resorting to public comment and criticism”.
“You conducted yourself in a manner that lacked high ethical standards expected from a senior official by confirming as correct statements or allegations made at the Zondo commission,” read the charge sheet.
For his ANC comments Magagula was charged with abusing his position “to promote the interest of a political party” and that he “engaged in, or took part in a political activity when on duty or in official premises”.
In August Magagula pleaded his case and argued inconsistency, showing in documents that Nesangani had made several comments on Bosasa and politics in general for the period of a year between January 2017 and last year.
The argument led to a postponement of proceedings on September 2 and confirmation by the state attorney on September 10 that Magagula had a valid argument.
According to documents, Nesangani’s comments included criticism of the “big belly” ANC youth league leader; Malusi Gigaba and Jacob Zuma’s alleged lies; Tito Mboweni’s alleged disconnection with reality over the e-tolls; Ace Magashule being a “factory fault”, Nomvula Mokonyane’s alleged wrongful appointments; as well as declaring his distrust for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
On Bosasa he said: “I wonder what [the] reaction will be when I meet my colleagues who are implicated in the corruption state capture [sic]. I use [sic] to think I am failing to save money to do everything I wanted when I see people doing extra good things. Now, eh, eh, eh, I changed my thought.”
Among his duties, the charged director of corporate services, advises Gauteng regional commissioner Grace Molatedi on human resource policies.
Molatedi, a former deputy regional commissioner of the Free State, was mentioned by Agrizzi in the state capture commission inquiry on allegations that she received R150 000 from Bosasa.
Two of the senior officials serving in the steering committee that decided to invesigate Magagula – Maria Mabena and Jafta Mkhabela – were also mentioned by Agrizzi as being among those who received kickbacks from Bosasa.
The department declined to comment on labour matters between employer and employees.
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