South Africa

Correctional Services corrects commissioner’s extravagant hotel living

Lucky Mthethwa 03 04 24

Following The Citizen’s bold exposé of the Department of Correctional Services splurging R6 million accommodating four acting officials in hotels despite state houses being available on prison grounds, the department is now ending the wasteful expenditure.

It has terminated Lucky Mthethwa’s three-year hotel stay in East London and has made him a permanent provincial prisons commissioner saving the department a fortune.

He will now occupy a state house renovated to the tune of R1 million for him to use when he arrived in the province in 2021.

READ: Acting prison boss racks up R1.4m hotel bill despite renovated state house being available

Mthethwa announced as a permanent commissioner

The row back comes as the department received public and political backlash after The Citizen revealed that Mthethwa’s accommodation at a beach-facing hotel in East London cost the department R1.4 million since he took over as acting commissioner in May 2021.

This week, the DCS national commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale travelled to East London where he officially announced Mthethwa as the permanent commissioner.

Due to this, the department will no longer be liable to pay Mthethwa statutory payments linked to his acting capacity including subsistence and acting allowance.

Public Protector and Sars asked to investigate

The Democratic Alliance wasted no time when the news broke out and wrote to the Public Protector and SA Revenue Services Commissioner (Sars), Edward Kieswetter asking them to launch investigations into what had been reported by The Citizen.

READ: EC prison boss costs department R100K by taking 40 staff to Mangaung Prison for lessons on Bester’s escape

The party described this as abuse of state resources, and requested Mthethwa be ordered to “repay every cent abused from the taxpayers”.

It also asked Kieswetter to launch an audit into Mthethwa’s tax affairs saying the luxurious stay must be taxed as a fringe benefit.

The Citizen later released another article after the DCS confirmed that it was further paying for hotel accommodation of three other officials besides Mthethwa since 2020 – bringing the total money used on hotels to R6 million.

The three other officials are Solly Netshivhazwaulu, acting head of St Albans Maximum Prison in Gqeberha, and his two secretaries whom he insisted on bringing with from Limpopo to the Eastern Cape.

Netshivhazwaulu’s permanent position is in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, where he is an area commissioner.

Plans to end St Albans splurging afoot

DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo told The Citizen the department was in the process of filling the St Albans vacant post meaning Netshivhazwaulu and his two staffers would no longer be accommodated at hotels.

READ: Correctional services splurge: Ballooning hotel bill for acting officials now at R6 million

“The Department will follow its processes and announce when the St Albans area commissioner post is filled. The same way we did with the post of the regional commissioner [Mthethwa],” said Nxumalo.

We previously reported that this is Netshivhazwaulu’s second acting stint in the Eastern Cape, having acted as area commissioner for the OR Tambo District prisons in Mthatha between April 2020 and November 2020.  

On both the previous and current acting stints, he had brought two secretaries with him and they all stayed at hotels at the expense of taxpayers. The trio’s accommodation has so far reportedly cost the department R4 471 200.

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