DG on a mission to restore good governance in Free State

After seven years of continuous qualified opinions, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has obtained and unqualified audit opinion in various areas for the 2012/2013 financial year.

In monitoring the overall performance and encouraging officials to sustain and improve on the good work done thus far, the Director–General, Ms Nonkululeko Sindane embarked on a three-day unannounced visit to the Free State Region. Offices visited were the Bloemfontein Regional Office; Master of the High Court: Bloemfontein;  Supreme Court of Appeal; Offices of the Family Advocate and State Attorney; Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court and the Mangaung One Stop Child Justice Centre.

On 21 October, Ms Sindane held a meeting with the Free State Regional Head Mr Thembile Khuse, and the staff in general where she highlighted some concerns such as the lack of proper management on the Third Party Funds (TPF), witness fees, working relations, performance information, assets management, disposal strategy and the unadvertised vacant posts.

The director-general urged managers in the region to follow proper human resource procedures when advertising and filling vacant posts as improper channels result into services delayed and limit the opportunity of hiring suitable candidates.

Ms Sindane said during 2010/12 financial year, a disposal committee was sent to the region to assist with asset management. She then urged managers to ensure that assets are being disposed accordingly. “If assets are to be disposed, it must happen in consistence with the policy,” stressed Ms Sindane.

She later visited the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court where her main concern was the cash hall. The director-general found that there was little improvement at the cash hall, following her initial visit at the court in 2011. During her first visit, Ms Sindane indicated that she found an unlocked drawer with a lot of money and the security at the cash hall was not adequate as it was easy for any person to gain access. “This resulted in the court reporting money shortages and by that time, the office was not using Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) system,” explained Ms Sindane, adding that as from February 2013, the court has been using EFT system.

A court official, Mr Lee Ward said the EFT system is working smoothly and the only challenge is that the office does not receive schedules on time from the other departments.  Ms Sindane promised to address the issue.

The mood started to become sombre as the director-general went through some of the files in the cash hall and discovered an amount of R10 500 under unclassified monies which accumulated in one day. Ms Sindane urged the officials to avoid sitting with unclassified large amounts of money, as it increases the unclassified accounts every year. “The unclassified account is growing, we need to deal with the Third Party Funds (TPF) as it is often a problematic area contributing to qualified reports,” she said.

The Master of the High Court: Bloemfontein has recently rolled out the Paperless Estate Administration System (PEAS). As the office has now moved from a manual to an automated system, the director-general urged officials to work harder especially on Guardian’s Fund.  “PEAS is very simple, but it needs hardworking people,” she warned.

Ms Sindane’s last stop was the Mangaung One Stop Child Justice Centre where the children in conflict with the law are rehabilitated. On arrival, she met Magistrate Louw Schoeman who demonstrated great passion for what he is doing. He explained fully the processes they follow and indicated the good relations they have with all key stakeholders such as the National Prosecuting Authority, Legal Aid South Africa, South African Police Service and the Department of Social Development.

He cited the infrastructure and cleaning services as some of the major challenges they are faced with. Mr Schoeman pleaded with the department to provide the centre with mobile offices and the necessary budget for cleaning services. “At some stage, I had to do the gardening myself to keep the centre clean,” said Mr Schoeman. Ms Sindane applauded him for his dedication to the centre, irrespective of the challenges faced by it and promised to address the matter with the regional office.

Minister Radebe

By Glory Msungwa

06 November 2013