Post Office suspends senior officials after Uyinene Mrwetyana's rape, murder

The South African Post Office has suspended two senior officials after the rape and murder Uyinene Mrwetyana in the parastatal's branch.
The South African Post Office has suspended two senior officials after the rape and murder Uyinene Mrwetyana in the parastatal's branch.
Image: Facebook/Zuki Lamani

The South African Post Office (Sapo) has delivered letters of suspension to two senior officials following the rape and murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana inside the parastatal's branch.

This was revealed in the mailing and banking parastatal's newsletter sent out to employees on Monday morning and leaked to Sowetan.

The suspension of the pair came a day before an announcement that the suspect implicated in the 19-year-old's rape and murder has been summarily dismissed, as reported by SowetanLive's sister publication TimesLIVE.

"Take note that following the preliminary findings of the internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the employee implicated in the Clareinch Post Office matter, Sapo has placed two of its executives on precautionary suspension," reads the newsletter.

The affected officials, whose names were mentioned in the newsletter and are known to Sowetan, are the general manager of security and investigation as well as the acting executive of human capital management.

"Sapo reiterates that these suspensions are precautionary in nature and do not reflect a finding of wrongdoing on the part of the suspended executives.

"A determination in this regard will be made in due course in accordance to our internal HR processes," reads the newsletter.

It concludes by pleading with the employees to respect the privacy of the newsletter and that of the two officials.

Their suspension came after SowetanLIVE's sister publication The Sunday Times last week reported that post office bosses had known for more than a year that Mrwetyana’s self-confessed killer was a convicted criminal, but ignored an intelligence report.

The report also revealed that the 42-year-old suspect was among 300 employees who failed a vetting process last year as they were involved in crimes including theft, sexual harassment, domestic violence and assault.

According to the TimesLIVE article, the suspect, who cannot be named due to a court order, was axed after a comprehensive investigation by the post office was concluded last week.

He is currently in police custody and is due to make his next court appearance in November.

"The accused has since been summarily dismissed as he made himself guilty of gross misconduct by intentionally misleading the organisation and stating under oath that he had never been convicted of any criminal offence," the department of communications, telecommunications and postal services has confirmed.

In another media statement the minister of communications and digital technologies, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams confirmed the suspension of the two managers, adding that she had implored the Post Office board and management to intensify security measures at its branches and appropriately act against employees who have failed to adhere to internal HR policies and protocols.

"On Friday, 13 September 2019, Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams met with SAPO to receive a comprehensive report following the brutal rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana at the hands of a SAPO employee at its Clareinch Post Office in Cape Town.

"The accused has since been summarily dismissed as he made himself guilty of gross misconduct by intentionally misleading the organisation and stating under oath that he had never been convicted of any criminal offense.

"Of the 300 flagged employees, the State Security Agency report further identified 174 employees who have criminal records.

"SAPO is in the process of further investigations to ascertain the appropriate actions to be taken against identified employees. In this respect, the minister urged SAPO to swiftly act on affected employees, especially those in the mail and frontline services.

Ndabeni-Abrahams also raised concerns about the 2016 Collective Agreement on Salary Adjustments and Substantive Issues Pertaining to Employees in the Bargaining Unit.

The agreement was entered into between SAPO and the Communication Workers Union, South African Postal Workers Union and Democratic Postal and Communications Workers Union. It related to, amongst others, the conversion of casual employees.

In terms of clause 5.3.5 of the Collective Agreement, the Parties agreed to “…deviate, from the traditional recruitment process (interviews, minimum requirements, vetting etc.)”  This was in compliance with section 198B of the Labour Relations Act as these employees served SAPO for a number of years.

"It is recorded that the accused entered the employ of SAPO as a labour broker employee and was converted to a permanent employee through the afore-mentioned agreement.

"To confirm that there are no similar instances, Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams has directed the director-general to ensure that security vetting is instituted in all State-owned entities in the ministry’s portfolio," read the statement.

The SA Post Office said "... following the preliminary findings of the internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding this matter, SAPO has placed two of its executives on precautionary suspension.

"SAPO reiterates that these suspensions are precautionary in nature and do not reflect a final finding of wrongdoing on the part of the suspended executives. A determination in this regard will be made in due course in accordance to our internal HR processes," read the statement.

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