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Wed Nov 26 23:28:29 SAST 2014

War on corruption

DENISE WILLIAMS | 25 February, 2013 00:36
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe. File photo
Image by: Picture: PEGGY NKOMO

The government plans to fight corruption in the public sector by "naming and shaming" corrupt public servants.

"Within a matter of days", 32 public servants will be labelled "corrupt", and officials who benefited by more than R5-million from corrupt activities will have their assets frozen, said Justice Minister Jeff Radebe in Pretoria yesterday.

"In the next few days, we will be publishing all the names of people who have been convicted in cases of corruption and all those whose assets have either been frozen or have been forfeited to the state, so that the public knows these rotten apples of society."

Radebe, who was flanked by Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, briefed the media on the justice cluster's fight against corruption.

In the debate in parliament last week on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation speech, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said government officials would have to be held accountable if corruption were to be rooted out.

"We must recognise that supply-chain management is the Achilles heel of our democracy," said Manuel.

He said proposals outlined in the National Development Plan focused on fighting corruption and getting better value for money in the state's procurement system.

Last year, it was reported that 192 officials in the justice, crime prevention and security cluster had been charged with corruption and 86 were convicted. Another 296 public servants faced disciplinary hearings.

In November, the Public Service Commission told parliament's public service and administration portfolio committee that though financial misconduct had decreased the monetary values involved had increased.

The commission's director-general, Richard Levin, told MPs that in 2006-2007 corruption had cost the government R130.6-million. This ballooned to R932.3-million in 2010-2011.

According to the Correctional Services annual report for 2011-2012, 4171 cases of misconduct by department employees were recorded. Of these, 152 implicated warders and others in corruption, theft or fraud.

Radebe said progress was being made in fighting corruption with the use of measures such as freezing assets to ensure that those involved in corruption could not benefit from "ill-gotten" gains while their cases were being heard.

He said the government's anti-corruption team had made "good progress" since 2010 in the following areas:

  • Freezing the assets of 59 people, to the value of R816-million;
  • Returning about R78-million in forfeited property to the state;
  • Working with the Rural Development and Land Reform Department in recovering three farms, valued at R59-million, lost through corrupt activities; and
  • The attachment of five farms valued at R74-million.

Radebe said interventions in Limpopo, where the anti-corruption team is investigating 39 criminal cases involving fraud and corruption, had "reaped rewards".

Axed ANC Youth League president Julius Malema is currently facing court action for fraud amounting to millions of rands relating to tenders in Limpopo.

Radebe promised that the filling of all senior posts in the criminal justice system would be prioritised. This would include the appointment of a national director of public prosecutions and of the head of the Special Investigating Unit.

Radebe said that the top job at the Special Investigating Unit would be filled by the end of the month .

He would not commit himself on the timing of the appointment of the public prosecutions head, saying that it would "be soon".

Menzi Simelane was removed from office as NPA head last year when the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma's decision to appoint him was invalid.

But the DA was sceptical. DA MP Debbie Schafer said that if Radebe and Zuma were serious about fighting crime the positions would already have been filled.

"It is little wonder that our criminal justice system is failing if key appointments remain empty and those who act in these positions fail to do their job.

"The president and the justice, crime prevention, and security cluster must stop telling us that these positions will be filled, and then fail to tell us when," Schafer said.

She said other vacant positions included:

  • Head of the crime intelligence unit - vacant for 9 months;
  • Director-general of the State Security Agency - 15 months;
  • Head of domestic intelligence - 18 months; and
  • Head of foreign intelligence - 12 months.

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