E Cape health dept catches up with ghost workers

The Eastern Cape health department has identified a possible 179 ghost workers on its books, which could mean savings totalling R1,59-million a month.

Departmental spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo made the announcement on Wednesday at the end of a month-long exercise in which staff were asked to collect their pay cheques in person, against identification, rather than having the money paid into an account.

Kupelo said initial indications were that of the 179 “ghost” workers, two were still collecting even though they were in jail.

Others had been dismissed, had absconded, resigned or retired, or were supposed to be on unpaid leave.

At least 25 were dead, though some of them might have died during the exercise in November, while the reasons other people had not claimed their cheques were not clear.

“The department has instituted a thorough investigation into these cases,” Kupelo said. “If there are eligible people here, they need to come forward. Probably early next month we’ll be able to say, ‘So many cases were fraudulent.’”

There could also be arrests, he said.

The department issued 31 511 cheques in November.
It spends about R3,2-billion on salaries a year.

“We are very pleased with the exercise, because we suspected there was something very wrong with our system,” Kupelo said.

His department was the first in the province to conduct such an exercise, and it hoped other departments would follow suit.—Sapa

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