Original Research

The management of disciplinary cases in the South African public service post-2009 to the 2018 era

Manasseh M. Mokgolo, Maoka A. Dikotla
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 9, No 1 | a525 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v9i1.525 | © 2021 Manasseh M. Mokgolo, Maoka A. Dikotla | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 January 2021 | Published: 09 November 2021

About the author(s)

Manasseh M. Mokgolo, Department of Leadership and Human Resources Review, Leadership and Management Practices, Office of the Public Service Commission, Pretoria, South Africa
Maoka A. Dikotla, Department of Information Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa


Background: Poor management of disciplinary cases in the South African public service departments is on the rise. The management of disciplinary cases, amongst other things, has drawn considerable criticism from within the public sector, various media outlets, interest groups and even opposition movements. The government has adopted progressive discipline prescripts to inculcate and promote a culture of professional ethics and accountability. In the workplace, objectivity, consistency and fairness are an important part of healthy employer–employee ties.

Aim: The study sought to obtain an in-depth understanding of disciplinary cases and describe the challenges senior managers face when managing disciplinary cases in the public service departments.

Setting: Both the national and provincial public service departments of South Africa.

Methods: The study adopted qualitative modernistic research approach. Semi-structured electronic questionnaire was used to collect views from 751 senior managers.

Results: Public service employees are deprived of organisational justice because of weaknesses associated with the discipline management. This is because management of disciplinary cases and sanctions in most national and provincial departments in the public service is perilous and incongruent with the discipline management prescripts.

Conclusion: Based on the findings, the current practices do not deter future violations of discipline management prescripts; inconsistent, unfairness and injustice application of sanctions and management of cases and future misconduct in the workplace. Therefore, the authors recommend the use of team-based and progressive discipline to ensure that staff contribute effectively, efficiently and ethically to the goals of the government. The present study contributes to the existing body of knowledge on human resource management and organisational behaviour and provides a platform that broadens an understanding of the amplifying toxic management of disciplinary cases in the South African public service context.


disciplinary cases; discipline management; employees’ grievance; public service; sanctions; South Africa


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Crossref Citations

1. Competence and justice in public service discipline management
Ambiliasia Peniel Mosha
SN Business & Economics  vol: 3  issue: 11  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1007/s43546-023-00578-2