Another Emfuleni senior worker getting paid while AWOL

Employee paid more than R3m since 2019

07 September 2023 - 06:57
By Noxolo Sibiya
Gauteng MEC for COGTA Mzikayifani Khumalo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda Gauteng MEC for COGTA Mzikayifani Khumalo.

Embattled Emfuleni local municipality had no idea it was paying a senior accountant a monthly salary while he was sitting at home until recently.

The employee has pocketed more than R3m since 2019.

But following questions in the legislature about the employee who draws a salary of R65,351 a month, the municipality now says it will verify its payroll.

MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Mzi Khumalo said in response to questions posed by the DA's Kingsol Chabalala that the employee has worked for the municipality since 1986.

His salary is inclusive of a R15,000 car allowance and R600 cellphone allowance. 

Khumalo said the Emfuleni municipal manager, April Ntuli, only learnt that the employee was AWOL after Chabalala posed questions to the legislature in August. 

“He [Ntuli] has since ordered for a detailed report from the revenue department. The finding in this regard will lead to measures to redress such misconduct," Khumalo said.

"The accounting officer has also called for an audit institution-wide of all employees who are not coming to work and has also called for human resources department to do an audit of all municipal staff to stop ghost workers if they do exist."

Khumalo said the employee met the minimum requirements when Chabalala asked about his qualifications. 

Municipal spokesperson Makhosonke Sangweni said Ntuli was not the “holy spirit” and wouldn’t know about an issue unless it was reported by managers. 

He told Sowetan that the municipality was still planning to conduct verification of all employees and managers would have to account. 

“Managers would have to account on their subordinates, if they have signed the log sheet. In a case like this one, the manager would have to explain why they did not act and report the matter to HR. 

“The manager would have to account for the log sheet which would reflect whether an employee has signed in for work or not and why they as managers did not act.” 

He said the municipality has about 2,000 employees and they would know the exact number after the verification process has been completed.

Chabalala criticised the municipality for not being able to monitor such practices, saying it was indicative of a poorly managed municipality. 

“Furthermore, this shows that there is no monitoring or skills audit of all employees. The fact that they failed to disclose the qualifications of the senior accountant raises questions about whether he meets the job requirements. 

“While the municipal manager has instituted an audit of all employees to stop the ghost workers, we demand that those implicated in paying salaries to them be held accountable. The municipal manager, human resources, payroll, finance and senior managers have a case to answer because this is happening under their watch.” 

In July, Sowetan reported about how the municipality was paying R597,012 a month to a senior engineering technician who had not reported for duty for years following a dispute between him and his superior. 

“It has now become a norm that Emfuleni pays employees for sitting at home doing nothing, which amounts to a theft of funds from this financially distressed municipality. It is high time that Emfuleni gets rid of corrupt officials to ensure that municipal funds are spent wisely to improve service delivery,” Chabalala said.