“The system is down” — Home Affairs fires IT director

The Department of Home Affairs has dismissed a senior official found guilty on counts relating to gross negligence and gross dereliction of duty.

The official, Simphiwe Hlophe, Chief Director: Infrastructure Management for Information Systems (IS) was responsible for Information Technology (IT), aspects that involve network outages (offline), system downtime and IT capability which affect the Department’s commitment to service delivery and clean governance.

Hlophe was charged with:

  • Gross negligence or dereliction of duties in that he certified an invoice of  the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) that included services not rendered;
  • Contravention of National Treasury Regulation 8.2.1, gross negligence (alternative negligence) in that he authorised other expenditure against a credit note issued by SITA; and
  • Gross dereliction of duties or dereliction of duties in that routers and switches were procured, but remained in storage, and were not deployed.

Last year, the Department of Home Affairs, together with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, as well as SITA presented to the Joint Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs and Communications and Digital Technologies a plan to deal with system downtime in Home Affairs offices.

SITA undertook to overhaul their networks whereas Home Affairs undertook to buy a certain number of new routers and switches. These routers and switches were procured.

Hlophe reported that they were being deployed whereas it was discovered later that in reality they remained in the storerooms.

In a statement on Tuesday, the department said the sanction was pronounced and served to Hlophe on 19 August 2022.

“The Department has been frequently experiencing system instability which has negatively impacted on frontline service delivery. The Department’s service delivery charter depends on a stable IT infrastructure platform, networks and operating systems, to effectively perform its functions, rendering sustainable and reliable service capability to our frontline offices.

“The failure of a senior manager to oversee and execute on these functions is a serious misconduct, and cannot be tolerated,” said the department.

The department added that senior managers must also be aware of the consequences when not applying due diligence to the certification of invoices and payments authorised between the department and third parties.

It added that negligence of this nature is a serious transgression of the Public Finance Management Act and the onus remains with the senior manager to ensure that payments certified are in lieu of services rendered, fully, and that they serve the interests of the department.

“We are on a firm path towards clean governance and improved service delivery. The responsibility for the performance of the Department rests with all employees. Accountability for the performance of assigned responsibilities is absolutely critical,” said Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi (pictured).

Now read: Home Affairs hiring 10,000 IT graduates — first job listings go live

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“The system is down” — Home Affairs fires IT director