The external investigation commissioned by Parliament into the causes associated with the 2022 security breach and fire incident as well as separate alleged administrative irregularities have pointed to systems and conduct of specific Parliament employees that raised cause for concern. In light of these findings, Parliament has engaged in further processes to address some of the concerns and to implement remedial actions. These further assessments identified conduct of several employees that required redress. It was compelled to implement a series of rigorous actions against those implicated, reinforcing the institution’s commitment to integrity and enforcing personal accountability among its staff.
Upon reviewing the consequent allegations of misconduct among these staff members, Parliament has engaged external legal counsel for guidance on appropriate actions to take against those implicated.
The legal team pinpointed 28 individuals facing significant allegations that required their response.
As of October 20th, these employees received notice of the charges under consideration and were given a chance to reply or comment on the claims. Out of these, 26 employees have responded. One did not, while another was hospitalized at the time but has since indicated a willingness to address the allegations.
Some employees offered satisfactory justifications for their actions, which Parliament has acknowledged, absolving them from the charges. For these individuals, Parliament is contemplating alternative measures such as professional development or additional training to address any identified skill gaps.
Others failed to provide adequate explanations. Consequently, Parliament is arranging disciplinary hearings for these staff members, who will soon receive notice of the specific charges they face.
The preparations for these hearings are particularly delicate. In organizing the disciplinary proceedings, Parliament must balance protecting its interests with the rights of the employees concerned.
Due to the serious nature of the allegations, 9 out of the 13 staff members facing disciplinary action have been placed on precautionary suspension with full pay and benefits. This decision takes into account their senior positions and the possible influence they could have on their colleagues within the organization.
This suspension, Parliament believes, is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the institution and ensuring an impartial process. The decision was taken to safeguard all parties involved and is applicable only in situations where the continued presence of these individuals could hinder the disciplinary preparation or possibly sway witnesses.
For the upcoming hearings, external legal experts and chairpersons will be appointed to guarantee impartiality and eliminate any suspicion of bias.
Parliament underscores the difficulty of this decision, assuring that it has followed the counsel of labour law specialists. This process should not be construed as an implication of guilt upon any of the employees. Parliament is committed to upholding the rights of all involved.
Parliament is committed to ensuring a fair and just process for every employee involved and, therefore, will not make further public comments on this matter unless deemed necessary.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.