The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has resolved to give the Minister of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Mr Ronald Lamola, until the end of January 2021 to complete the investigation into comments made by the Chairperson of the DCS's audit committee, Ms JS Masite.
A video that went viral shows Ms Masite making "insulting" comments shortly after a meeting with the committee and the Office of the Auditor-General (AGSA) earlier this week. Committee Chairperson Mr Bulelani Magwanishe said the video gives the impression that the comments refered to Members of Parliament (MPs) serving on the portfolio committee. Members of the committee saw this as an irritation to its oversight work.
The comments, made in a vernacular language, loosely translate to mean "these people are boring". In the meeting, the AGSA had informed the committee that it could not find sufficient documentation to prove that the information contained in the audit report is a true reflection of the situation at DCS. Ms Masite is an independent appointment made by Mr Lamola, not a DCS official.
Mr Magwanishe informed the committee today that the Minister had responded to the committee's request for a proper investigation into the matter. Minister Lamola informed the committee that he has since been briefed on the unfortunate incident and he requested that the executive be allowed to investigate the matter and report back to Parliament.
The committee agreed to Minister Lamola's request, but decided to included timeframes. "The committee would like a report on the matter on or before 31 January 2020, as it will give the Minister sufficient time to do a thorough investigation and report to the committee," Mr Magwanishe said.
Ms Masite has since explained that the comments refer to a diffirent meeting. Committee members have, however, maintained that a certain decorum is required when officials or presenters attend vitual meetings, as they have the same status as being in Parliament. MPs view the comments as an insult not only to the committee, but also to Parliament. The multiparty committee therefore felt that the issue cannot rest with the explanation provided by Ms Masite.