A senior official is in hot water for uttering words to the effect that “these people are boring” at the end of a virtual parliamentary meeting on Tuesday.
MPs want justice and correctional services Ronald Lamola to take action against JS Masite, who chairs the department of correctional services’ internal audit committee.
Masite, who did not switch off her microphone at the end of the meeting, could be heard speaking in SeSotho saying “they are so boring”, adding that the meeting could have ended after an hour. The meeting, which started at 8am on Tuesday and ended just after 9.30am, discussed the department’s qualified audit findings for 2019/20.
On Wednesday morning, Masite claimed she had been complaining about an earlier meeting.
“Let me start by apologising for not closing my microphone during the time when I was talking to my personal issues. When I was talking about boring people and whatever, it was not related to the meeting we had with the portfolio committee. I had another meeting at 6am which ended at 7.45am,” she said.
Masite said it was “really disappointing” that the clip of her faux pas went viral without people understanding what had really happened.
MPs didn’t buy her explanation and wanted the department to take action against her.
The DA’s Werner Horn – who had sought a translation – found Masite’s explanation “questionable at best and highly improbable” as the comments were made right at the end of their meeting.
ANC MPs Nomathemba Maseko-Jele and Jacqui Mofokeng insisted that while on the surface Masite’s words could be taken lightly, they had a deeper meaning and were insulting.
They too were not satisfied with her explanation.
The DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach proposed that the committee be furnished with the details of the meetings that Masite claimed she was referring to.
Correctional services national commissioner Arthur Fraser indicated Masite was not an employee of his department but an independent chairperson of the audit committee appointed by Lamola. Fraser said he would engage Lamola on the matter raised by MPs as the authority who appointed Masite.
The department received a qualified audit from the auditor-genera on the basis of the irregular expenditure it incurred which jumped from R159m in 2018/19 to R1,044m in 2019/20.
“The department did not have an adequate system for identifying and disclosing all irregular expenditure incurred, as a result we could not confirm completeness of irregular expenditure disclosed in the financial statements,” said the auditor-general in his report.
The auditor-general also found that competitive bidding processes were not followed, there was non-compliance with the SITA Act and three price quotations were not obtained.
The auditor-general said these categories of irregular expenditure were not disclosed as irregular expenditure in the financial statement.