The weak control environment in South Africa’s public sector has, in the past, resulted in high levels of irregular, fruitless and wasteful, and unauthorised expenditure. In order to make a contribution to the discourse of mechanisms that could be deployed to reduce high levels of irregular, fruitless and wasteful, and unauthorised expenditure, this study analysed the capabilities of the human capital deployed in South Africa’s public sector. Together with the National Treasury in the Office of the Accountant General, a questionnaire was designed and administered to the public institution’s Chief Risk Officers in the first quarter of 2017. The findings of the study are that inadequate risk management processes and ineffective practices that are partly responsible for the weak control environment in public institutions, could also be attributed to the capabilities of the human capital deployed in enterprise risk management functions. In this regard, the study found that some of the reasons for the inadequate risk management processes and ineffective practices stemmed from: the inadequate staffing of the enterprise risk management function; positions not being filled by candidates with adequate academic qualifications and experience; the time it takes to fill a vacant position; and inadequate budget allocations. When institutions address risk maturity, policies, processes, and practices, focus must simultaneously be directed to the human capabilities deployed within the risk management function.