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Parliament, Thursday, 11 October 2018 – The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services today held an engagement with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Public Protector of South African (PPSA) on their annual reports.

Committee Chairperson Ms Madipoane Refiloe Moremadi Mothapo said the committee is extremely concerned that certain commissioners that are appointed on a full-time basis are not using the offices in Gauteng. “When commissioners were appointed, they had the option of full-time or part-time positions. The deputy chairperson was appointed on a full-time basis, but has not taken up office yet. This is extremely concerning, as the head office of the SAHRC is supposed to house a person in that position.”

Ms Mothapo said Ms Devikarani Priscilla Sewpal Jana was appointed as a full-time commissioner in January 2016. According to Ms Jana, it has been agreed that she only move to Gauteng in January 2019. “Surely this cannot be condoned. We will write to the chairperson of the SAHRC to seek clarity on this matter.”

The committee was also briefed by the SAHRC on its annual report. The SAHRC reported that it is in the process of ensuring that it can issue directives and not just recommendations.

On matters relating to the PPSA, Ms Mothapo said the committee has great respect for its work, as it deals directly with the public’s concerns and holds government to account.

The committee heard that the PPSA has accumulated a deficit over the years of over R17.9 million. This is partly because of insufficient funding to fulfil its mandate in line with the Constitution. Furthermore, the demand for PPSA’s services over the past years increased, while its budget has been reduced. Ms Mothapo said the committee is aware of the PPSA budget cuts, as many government departments and entities have had to endure similar cuts.

The committee expressed concern that the PPSA financial statements submitted for auditing were not prepared in accordance with the prescribed financial reporting framework and as required by the Public Finance Management Act. The committee heard the PPSA audit services have been outsourced to a private company and that PPSA management has not exercised sufficient oversight responsibility, as there were numerous misstatements in the financial statement. The office of the PPSA assured the committee that the audit service provider’s contract ends in February 2019. Key positions within the finance unit are also vacant, including that of the chief financial officer and the manager responsible for finance.

The committee further noted with concern R1.4m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, predominately on labour-related matters, penalty interest from the South African Revenue Service, vehicle accidents and travel booking cancellations. The committee was assured that once the human resource processes have been completed, consequence management may be applicable.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, MS MADIPOANE REFILOE MOREMADI MOTHAPO.

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