FS Education’s ghost workers speak out

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FS Education's ghost workers speak out

A warehouse worker for the Free State Department of Education has come out and revealed how he was appointed and made cash payments to some officials as “pay back”.
This comes after Bloemfontein Courant published a story last week on allegations of fraud, corruption and nepotism that had surfaced within the department. More employees have disclosed their experiences at the department’s warehouses for stationery and learning materials.
Hundreds of warehouse employees from across the province, have all been appointed on contract and since have PERSAL numbers (the payment system for officials).
After ghost workers have been captured on the department’s Human Resources list for months, they start working, and are then paid lump sums of close to
R21 000 as back pay.
One worker says he was contacted by the departmental official in October 2014 and asked if he still needed a job. “I said I was still unemployed. He told me to find another unemployed person. We were instructed to fax our CVs along with the Z56 forms (Z56 is the governmental payment form) on which we had to fill out our bank details.”
“After faxing these forms, we waited for a month. Towards the end of that month, we were once again contacted and told that
R12 600 would be deposited into our accounts. We could keep R2 600, but had to pay back R10 000 (to an unknown bank account). By the end of that month, we were once again contacted by the department and told R4 200 would be deposited into our bank accounts, which would be our actual salaries. At the time we weren’t working and were still at home.”
These employees were later informed that they would start work in February 2015, although large payments had already been made by the department. Once they started working, they realised their appointment dates on their payslips dated back to the previous year.
More people were recruited two months ago. These new employees disclosed to some of their colleagues that they had already been paid R21 000 and that they could keep R2 000. They, however, had to pay back R19 000 to some officials. The employees were further shocked last month when they were instructed to sign registers that dated back to the appointment date on their payslips.
They claim the system struggled to pick up their PERSAL numbers in 2015. Some officials manipulated the system by creating ghost workers, thereby stealing from the department.
The disgruntled employees are certain that many recruitments at various warehouses across the province are done in this fraudulent manner. They say many formal complaints have been laid with their supervisors, but instead they are threatened with dismissal.
“There is no transparency at these warehouses. This has been happening for many years. Workers from other warehouses are scared of speaking out after many have been fired. They say there is no money for any salary increments or to be permanently hired, but they have been misusing the state funds in our names and we are keeping quiet.”
After the story had been published, employees from the Bloemfontein warehouse have been feeling intimidated.
An official from the department has recently threatened the workers and said they will soon know who spoke to the media. They alleged that they were in talks with a reporter who was going to reveal the names of the informants.
Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have also visited the warehouse and advised employees to shut down the place and go on a full-blown protest. Most workers didn’t have the courage and said members of the department’s anti-corruption unit, as well as the police, also arrived at the warehouse that day. – Refilwe Gaeswe 
refilwe@centralmediagroup.co.za