THE Commissioner of Labour, ‘Mamohale Matsoso has denied involvement in an alleged syndicate within the Ministry of Labour that is reportedly granting work permits to undeserving foreigners.
Ms Matsoso denied the allegations of her involvement in the fraudulent practices during her appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week.
She said she was aware that she had been named as one of the members of the alleged syndicate but the allegations were unfounded.
Ms Matsoso made the denial after a member of the PAC, Sam Rapapa, asked whether or not there were reported cases of corruption in the issuance of work permits.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Lechoo Setenane, said police investigations were underway on the reported cases of corruption where some officers in the ministry were accused of fraudulently giving work certificates to foreigners.
“There is a strong allegation that some officers in this ministry (Labour) have been involved cases of corruption in the issuance of work permits,” Mr Setenane said.
“I have been informed that the alleged malpractice has been going on for a very long time. Some cases have been reported to the police and I am informed that the DCEO (Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences) has been investigating.
“I have had the opportunity to meet some of the police officers who are handling the case and I asked them to see the case through.”
Kh’ohlisa Maputsoe, a legal officer in the Ministry of Labour, told the PAC that it was discovered that some officers fraudulently accessed a stamp from the labour commissioner’s office to certify letters that allowed some expatriates to continue working while awaiting the issuance of their work permits.
Ms Maputsoe said an officer identified as Ndabeni was implicated in the matter and he has since left the ministry.
Ms Matsoso replied by saying that her office never issued letters that allowed expatriates to work in the country without permits. She professed ignorance of the case involving Ndabeni and said she only knew of a case involving one Telisi who had improperly used the ministry’s letterhead and a stamp from the National Employment Services office.
“I did not write any letter. We do not have anyone by the name of Telisi in the ministry but I’m aware of someone by the name Telisi who is said to have been involved in the improper use of the ministry’s letterhead and a stamp from the National Employment Services office.
“There have been some newspaper reports that I was corrupt. I have taken a legal action against people who have accused me of opening an office that issues illegal work permits,” Ms Matsoso said, adding those who made the accusations had never been able to cite any specific cases of her alleged corruption.
“No one has come forward with a specific case where I could have been involved in the fraudulent practcse of awarding work permits.”
She added that disciplinary processes had been initiated against an officer, Nthoateng Russell, for fraudulently acquiring her office stamp which she used to certify a letter that allowed a South African company to put up a billboard.
Ms Matsoso said Russell worked with another person who was not an officer in the labour ministry and the two received M32 000 as a bribe.
PAC chairperson Selibe Mochoboroane said the PAC was determined to unearth more cases of corruption in the issuance of work permits for expatriates.
“The fact of the matter is that there is corruption in the issuance of permits in the Ministry of Labour,” Mr Mochoboroane said.