South Africa

Civil servant embroiled in R300,000 expenses fiddles fails in reinstatement bid

Civil servant embroiled in R300,000 expenses fiddles fails in reinstatement bid

A senior public servant who was fired for her involvement in a series of expenses fiddles totalling more than R300,000 has failed in a last-ditch bid to get her job back.

Ntombifuthi Zanele Ngcaku was a deputy director in the KwaZulu-Natal social development department, earning R52,224 a month, when she was dismissed in May 2019.

She was found guilty of:

  • Making false travel claims totalling R58,778 and false accommodation claims totalling R22,591;
  • Making false claims for incidentals and accommodation totalling R1,447;
  • Approving fuel claims totalling R215,953 for a fellow deputy director without authority; and
  • Claiming R1,297 for using her private car to travel to a meeting which she did not attend.

Appealing for reinstatement to Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council commissioner Lindiwe Makhanya, Ngcaku argued that her dismissal was unfair because it was common practice in the department that people who made false claims were not fired.

Makhanya said she found this argument “astonishing” because it meant Ngcaku “appeared not to see anything wrong with employees who abuse state funds”.

“During this arbitration, [Ngcaku] showed no remorse for all the charges that were preferred against her, as serious as they were in that they involved a large sum of money,” said Makhanya.

"[She] had been submitting these false claims and [approving her fellow deputy director's] claims for three years. If [her manager] had not initiated the investigation, [Ngcaku] would still be committing these misconducts.

“This is not expected from someone who held a senior position as a deputy director and had subordinates looking up to her.”

Ngcaku had been with the social development department for 27 years when she was dismissed, and worked in the records management department.

Ntokozo Mchunu, a director in the department who investigated Ngcaku, said he discovered she and a deputy director in another department had been signing each other's fuel claims — most of which were falsified — for years, in contravention of regulations. The colleague had resigned immediately after being charged.