18 January 2018
The Department of Home Affairs has completed its investigation of the incident involving officials who were recorded, and shamed on social media, for using private cellphones at the front desk at the Tongaat Office, on 10 January 2019The video, and the responses it attracted, created an impression that the two officials were on their cellphones instead of attending to members of the public waiting to be served.
On the instruction of Home Affairs acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Manager Cyril Mncwabe investigated the matter. During the investigation, which included interviewing officials, it was established that the office experienced a power failure on the day leading to a break in service that lasted for approximately 20 minutes.
Officials resumed work and served clients as soon as the system was restored.
On the strength of the information gathered, the Department has concluded that the cellphone incident at Home Affairs Tongaat occurred during the 20-minute break in service and that it did not directly impact on service delivery to clients. The break in service was announced to clients. There were compelling reasons for the two officials to use their cellphones during the service break, but they should have excused themselves to attend to personal matters at the back office.
The officials were granted an opportunity to present their side. They said they used the break in service to attend to emergencies as they did not want to leave their posts; they wanted to be able to continue with their functions as soon as the system was back online. One was arranging for a child to be picked up from school and the other official was following up on repairs to his vehicle. They were to work overtime on the day.
The officials acknowledged their mistake and voluntarily apologized for the misjudgment. Since there are no pending misconduct cases or investigations against them, and they render services diligently, it was concluded that they be given a written warning for their actions.
“On the basis of the findings and recommendations, a second chance is justifiable in this regard as it would encourage our officials to always exercise good judgement and adhere religiously to Departmental policies”, said acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso. “Mr Mncwabe, home affairs provincial manager, will continue to ensure that officials adhere to the policy on the use of cellphones during working hours.”
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