Following an investigation into the 2022 security breach and fire incident at Parliament, along with separate allegations of administrative irregularities, Parliament has identified several employees whose actions necessitated further scrutiny and potential disciplinary measures.
According to Parliament of South Africa, The external investigation, commissioned by Parliament, revealed systems and behaviors of specific employees that were cause for concern. In response, Parliament has taken steps to address these issues and enforce accountability. According to the statement released, external legal counsel was consulted to guide the appropriate actions against those implicated.
28 individuals were identified by the legal team as facing significant allegations. As of October 20th, notices of the charges were issued to these employees, providing them the opportunity to respond. Out of these, 26 have replied, one did not respond, and another, hospitalized at the time, has shown willingness to engage with the allegations.
Some employees managed to offer satisfactory justifications for their actions, leading Parliament to consider alternatives like professional development or training to improve their skills. However, others failed to provide adequate explanations. For these individuals, Parliament is organizing disciplinary hearings, and they will be notified of their specific charges shortly.
The preparations for these hearings are critical, balancing the protection of Parliament’s interests and the rights of the employees. In light of the serious nature of the allegations, 9 of the 13 staff members facing disciplinary action have been placed on precautionary suspension with full pay and benefits. This step is deemed necessary due to their senior positions and potential influence within the organization. The suspension is a measure to ensure the integrity of the disciplinary process and to prevent any possible influence over colleagues or witnesses.
External legal experts and chairpersons will be appointed to the hearings to ensure impartiality and avoid any bias. Parliament has emphasized the complexity of this decision and assures that it has followed labour law specialists’ advice in this matter. The ongoing process is not to be seen as a presumption of guilt for any of the employees, as Parliament upholds the rights of all parties involved.
Committing to a fair and just process, Parliament has stated it will refrain from making further public comments on this matter unless necessary.