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South Africans believe the most corrupt public service institutions and representatives in the country, in descending order, are the police, Home Affairs and officials awarding public tenders, according to a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) survey.
The survey, on perceptions of corruption in the country, was conducted with the help of South African Social Attitudes Survey 2011 (Sasas), which sampled 3 057 South Africans from the ages of 16 years and older.
South Africans were asked to name the areas of public service where corruption was noticeably widespread.
“The most commonly cited state representatives were the police, with two thirds (66 percent) of South Africans expressing the view that bribery and corruption are endemic in the South African Police Service,” read the report.
The report states that more than a third of South Africans believe there is considerable bribery and corruption among Home Affairs officials (38 percent ), national politicians (37 percent), officials awarding tenders (37 percent), and the people working in the judicial service (36 percent).
“The extensive exposure afforded to corruption cases by the media in recent years, including high-level policing scandals and tender irregularities, are likely to have fuelled these perceptions,” according to the study.
A common belief logged by those surveyed was that ordinary individuals have a role in addressing corruption, not only the national government, parliamentary and public service institutions.
Other public representatives that South Africans consider corrupt, albeit on a lesser scale, include officials issuing business permits, people working in the public health sector, and people working in the public education sector.
Perceived reasons for corruption include politicians “do not do enough to fight corruption” and there is “no real punishment for corruption”.
The report also notes that “public money is not spent in a transparent manner”.
“Around three quarters (74 percent) of all South Africans believe the incidence of corruption has increased in the past three years, while 10 percent feel it has declined and 12 percent report that it has remained unchanged over the period,” says the survey.
The report states that despite dissatisfaction with the handling of corruption cases by the the government and the courts, citizens tend to believe that preventing corruption is ultimately the role of public service institutions.
The results also reflected the general belief that South Africans are capable of critical citizenry, as they continue to recognise corruption as one of the top three serious societal changes that the country faces.
There has been “a strong desire shown for a corruption-free democracy”, which is accompanied by the incessant frustration with court outcomes with regard to corruption cases. “Of particular note, there is a strong awareness of the ongoing problems beleaguering the police.”
Citizens have shown a demand for more serious sentencing with regard to corruption case rulings, according to the study.
Comparative results conducted by Eurobarometer suggest, however, that the concern over corruption is a common phenomenon experienced by many post-transition nations.