An official of an entity of the department of public works and infrastructure is facing disciplinary steps after he appeared in bed and without a shirt in a virtual parliamentary committee meeting.
During Wednesday’s joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, a man identified by his screen name as Christopher Mulaudzi could be seen on the footage of the virtual meeting lying in bed, while Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille answered questions.
He later changed positions, revealing his bare chest.
ACDP MP Wayne Thring brought the committee chairperson’s attention to it.
“He doesn’t have a shirt on. I don’t know what’s going on there,” Thring said.
“DG, is that not one of your officials?” asked committee chairperson Nolitha Ntobongwana.
Director-general Sam Vukela confirmed that he was part of their delegation.
“We’ll take him immediately out of the programme,” Vukela said as Mulaudzi’s picture disappeared from the feed.
Ntobongwana thanked Thring for pointing it out and said they were in a formal meeting, which was being viewed by the country.
“That one is wrong,” she said.
A day later, the department released a statement, offering its sincere apologies to the committee chairperson, members and the public at large “for an errant behaviour displayed by an official of the Independent Development Trust (IDT), an entity of the department”.
“The official was caught on video laying on the bed, topless and wearing only shorts, while the meeting was in session, a behaviour which the department strongly condemns as it undermined the decorum of the meeting,” reads the statement.
Vukela said the incident should be viewed in a serious light.
“This is a very serious offence, which must be followed by a proper disciplinary process. This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and has brought the department into serious disrepute. I have, therefore, referred the matter to the CEO of the IDT to look further into it, in order to determine the appropriate corrective measures to be taken,” said Vukela.
“The CEO will in due course provide the minister with a report on the outcome of this matter, and also the measures which have been taken in this regard.”
Since April, parliament has been conducting its committee meetings via virtual platforms in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The same general rules and expectations of decorum for normal parliamentary meetings apply.