THE Eastern Cape has the most crooked civil servants in South Africa, with R35-million in government money irregularly spent, wasted or stolen in the 2009/10 financial year.
The biggest culprits are the province’s health officials, who reported costs of about R34.4-million – or 98.1% of the total – in financial misconduct through criminal activity, and irregular and wasteful expenditure, according to a report by the Public Service Commission.
The cost of financial misconduct at national departments amounts to R265.4-million, with about R262-million not recovered at all.
The province made up about 43% of the total R81-million cost by all nine provinces.
It was followed by KwaZulu-Natal with R17.6-million, and Mpumalanga at R16-million. The North West province recorded the lowest cost at R293871.
The report shows, however, that of the R35-million Eastern Cape total, R493111 was paid back by officials who were found guilty of misconduct, R177128 was not recovered at all and R34361707 was considered recovered because the misconduct was detected before the money had actually left government coffers.
The provincial Health Department was followed by the Department of Social Development with a cost of R565111, while the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported the lowest cost at R4566.
The report showed the province reported 120 cases of improper use of public funds – the third highest in the country – with the Health Department accounting for 90, or 75%, of those.
In national departments, it was revealed that fraud cost the state the most, with 600 cases reported that year, 16 of which were in the Eastern Cape and the most recorded in KwaZulu-Natal at 243. Fraud cases accounted for 52.9% of the total cases reported.
Nationally, of the 1135 cases of financial misconduct finalised, officials were found guilty in 998 cases, which represented 88% of those reported. The number of such cases finalised has shown a general increase from the 771 cases finalised in the 2005/06 financial year.
Of those found guilty, 489 were issued with a final written warning, 214 were fired and 117 were given a combination of sanctions.
Only two were sent to prison, four were demoted and eight were given a "suspended dismissal”, which means they would be fired if they were found guilty of a similar offence again.
The report showed that provincial departments had a higher recovery rate than national departments, with the former managing to get back 50.6% from those found guilty and the latter only 1.3%.