Government making strides in rooting out graft in public office – Minister Radebe

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Performance, Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration, Jeff Radebe, on Wednesday, sought to assure South Africa that government was making progress in the fight against corruption in public office.

Briefing the media at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament, Minister Radebe, who heads the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Information and Publicity, said that President Jacob Zuma, since 2009, signed thirty six (36) proclamations with five extensions, authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe departments and entities in the three spheres of government as well as state owned enterprises.

“This effort is a clear demonstration by government particularly President Zuma in rooting out corruption in government. This further gives effect to government’s commitment to deal with corruption as a priority. Government reiterates that it will not tolerate any form of corruption and will not hesitate to act where it appears,” Minister Radebe said.

“Since 2009, nine (9) reports have been completed and presidential reports have been submitted to the presidency, while twenty seven investigations are still ongoing. 

“The reports indicate that progress is being made in the fight against corruption within the public service and the actions taken should serve as a deterrent to other officials. Corruption is a cancer that deprives our people what they are entitled to which are services to improve their lives.”

Minister Radebe announced progress on the following completed cases.

Proclamation R.37 of 2010 relating to the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape Province

The SIU investigated allegations, which include losses suffered by the department as a result of the mismanagement of its expenditure or through theft, fraud or other unlawful conduct and irregular practices of the staff of the department and third parties.

In this regard, the SIU recovered a total of R5 038 754 which was due to the department and saved the department R29 137 500 in losses. Furthermore, a total of 87 cases against officials were referred to the department for disciplinary action. Fourteen (14) criminal cases were referred to the NPA, while 33 acknowledgement of debt agreements were obtained by the SIU, to the value of R 2 921 001.

Proclamation R.36 of 2010 in relation to the Department of Arts and Culture

The SIU investigated allegations, which included the under-spending or misspending of the department’s budgets for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Projects for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 financial years. Seven criminal cases have been registered with the police involving matters amounting to R 2 375 000. Acknowledgements of Debt have been obtained to the total value of R351 000.

Proclamation R.58 of 2010 in relation to the South African Broadcasting Corporation

The SIU investigated allegations regarding SABC personnel, which included undisclosed or unauthorised conflicts of interest with service providers of the SABC. Twenty eight criminal cases have been referred to the police, nine for fraud and 19 for the Contravention of Companies Act of 61 of 1973. In addition, 464 disciplinary cases have been referred to the SABC for recommended action.

Proclamation R.59 of 2010 relating to the Ikhala Further Education and Training College (Ikhala FET):

Eastern Cape Province directed the SIU to investigate the procurement of goods and services, including leased accommodation, by or on behalf of the College and other expenditure incurred by the College in an improper manner. As a result of the investigation the Chief Executive Officer and the Director of Internal Audit at the college were found guilty and dismissed. In addition, the Internal Audit Director was charged with fraud and theft and the Principal was charged with fraud and corruption.

Proclamation R.76 of 2010 directed the probing of George Local Municipality in the Western Cape Province.

The SIU investigated losses suffered by the Municipality as a result of unlawful conduct or irregular practices by the Municipality’s personnel or persons or entities doing business with the Municipality in relation to payments made to or disposal of municipal land to the George Housing Agency or the corrupt benefitting as a result of the alienation of municipal property. A criminal case against the Municipal Manager was referred to the National Prosecuting Authority while it was also recommended that the Municipality institute civil action against the Municipal Manager and the Legal Adviser for the loss to the value of 5.1 million rand to the Municipality.

Proclamation R.2 of 2011 directed the probe of the National Heritage Council within the Department of Arts and Culture.

The SIU investigated the procurement of goods, works or services by or on behalf of the Council and related expenditure incurred by the Council in an improper manner. The SIU has referred two criminal cases of tender fraud to the police. In addition, recommendations were made for disciplinary charges to be instituted against eight staff members for non-compliance with statutes and regulations in both procurement and expenditure management at the National Heritage Council.

Proclamation R.3 of 2011 in relation to Stellenbosch Local Municipality in the Western Cape Province

The SIU probed the procurement of goods, works or services by or on behalf of the Municipality and related expenditure incurred by the Municipality in an improper manner. The SIU has referred four criminal cases to the NPA and recommended disciplinary action against the officials, and also recommended that the municipality institute a civil matter.

In terms of Proclamation in respect R.6 of 2011, Oudtshoorn Local Municipality in the Western Cape Province

The SIU investigated the procurement of goods, works or services by or on behalf of the Municipality and related expenditure incurred by the Municipality in an improper manner. The outcome is six criminal cases that were referred to the NPA, which led to three arrests.

Proclamation R.12 of 2012 in respect of Swellendam Local Municipality in the Western Cape Province

The SIU investigated allegations, which includes maladministration in relation to the supply chain management systems of the Municipality; management of the Municipality’s finances and assets; Applications by developers for the development of the Swellengate and Swellenmark shopping centre developments and the Municipality’s approval of such applications, including the causes of such maladministration.

The SIU referred evidence to the NPA with regard to a municipal official and her spouse for fraud and corruption, with recommendations for disciplinary action against the official.

Anti-Corruption Task Team

“Government had also resolved to reduce levels of corruption and thus improving investor perception, trust and willingness to invest in South Africa,” said Radebe.

“In this regard, the Anticorruption Task Team   overseen by the Anti-corruption Inter-ministerial Committee have made great strides in their concerted efforts to fight corruption.”

He said through the Task Team, government set the target to successfully convict 100 people by 2014 for corruption where the amount involved is more than R5 million.

“In detecting allegations of serious corruption government recorded 548 incidents/allegations by end of March 2014 against a target of 300 incidents/ allegations by March 2013.

“The Task Team also had a target to initiate 150 criminal investigations persons on serious corruption related charges involving more than R5 million. To this end a total of 828 persons are currently under criminal, financial and/ or forensic investigation by end of March 2014,” said the Minister.

“The court directed criminal investigations was initiated against a total of 322 accused in the 103 priority cases under investigation. In addition a total of 96 persons received or potentially received R5 million or more benefits.

“The Task Team further had a target to initiate criminal pre-trial proceedings against 150 persons, in this regard a total of 322 persons were accused by end of March 2014. Trial proceedings had been initiated against 206 persons against a target of 120 persons by March 2014. 52 people had been successfully convicted against the target of 100 people by March 2014.”

He said that the Task Team further managed to obtain freezing orders against 68 persons against the target of 100 persons by end of March 2014. Furthermore, freezing orders to the value of R1.381 billion have been obtained against the target of R1 billion.

“The Task Team has also committed to reduce corruption within the JCPS cluster to enhance its effectiveness and its ability to serve as a deterrent against crime. In this regard, 91 Supply Chain Management personnel have been vetted per quarter against a target of 468. In addition 43 personnel within the JCPS have been convicted per quarter against a target of 170. Furthermore, 5080 disciplinary actions have been instituted against personnel in the JCPS cluster with 3751 cases successful cases,” Radebe added.

“The fight against corruption remains a priority to government and therefore, government will stop at nothing to ensure successful prosecution of all offenders wherever they are within our country.

“The great strides we have made, bears testimony and credence to our decision to declare corruption as a priority. The establishment of the Anti-Corruption Task Team under the stewardship of the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee is proving to be an effective tool to achieve successful prosecutions.

“There is no organ of state or department which can fight this scourge alone, therefore combining all these expertise is a model which we will continue to implement to achieve our goal of Zero tolerance to corruption.”

Photo caption: GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO FIGHTING GRAFT... Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Performance, Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration, Jeff Radebe, on Wednesday, sought to assure South Africa that government was making progress in the fight against corruption in public office.