Home Affairs IT worker fired for negligence

The Chief Director of Infrastructure Management for Home Affairs Information Systems was removed from his post on allegations of gross negligence and dereliction of duty.

In a statement on Wednesday, Home Affairs Spokesperson Siya Qoza said the accused, Simphiwe Hlophe, is an information technology (IT) specialist whose work has a huge impact on the productivity of the department and its ability to deliver services effectively.

“Mr. Hlophe is responsible for the IT aspects that involve network failures [offline]system downtime and IT capabilities that affect the department’s commitment to service delivery and clean governance,” Qoza said.

Hlophe defrauded the department in 2021.

Qoza said the department purchased routers and switches to try to address system downtime issues in its offices. However, Hlophe, who initially reported that the resources were deployed for use, instead kept them in warehouses.

“Last year, the Ministry of the Interior, together with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies and SITA [State Information Technology Agency] Presented to the Joint Home Affairs and Communications and Digital Technology Portfolio Committees a plan to address system downtime in Home Affairs offices.

“SITA has undertaken to completely overhaul its networks while Interior has undertaken to purchase a number of new routers and switches. These routers and switches have been purchased. Mr Hlophe reported that they were deployed while it was later discovered that in fact they remained in the reserves.

Hlophe was found guilty and simultaneously removed from office on August 19, 2022.

According to Qoza, the culprit was charged with gross negligence and dereliction of duty and violation of National Treasury Regulation 8.2.1.

“[He was charged with] gross negligence or breach of duty in that he certified a SITA invoice including services not rendered; violation of National Treasury Regulations 8.2.1, gross negligence [alternative negligence] in that he has authorized other expenses on a credit note issued by SITA; and gross dereliction of duty or dereliction of duty to the extent that routers and switches were purchased but remained in storage and not deployed,” Qoza explained.

Qoza said the department has experienced system instabilities that have negatively affected front-line service delivery, noting that the department’s service delivery charter depends on a stable IT infrastructure platform, networks and of operating systems “to effectively perform its functions, making service capacity sustainable and reliable to our frontline offices”.

“A senior executive’s failure to oversee and perform these functions is serious misconduct and cannot be tolerated.

“Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi has warned other officials and senior staff to be honest in their conduct and to be aware of the consequences that apply when someone is found guilty of such conduct.

The minister said negligence is a serious breach of the Public Financial Administration Act.

“We are on the right track towards clean governance and improved service delivery. Responsibility for the performance of the department rests with all employees. Accountability for the execution of assigned responsibilities is absolutely critical,” Motsoaledi said.

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