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Cosatu calls on Treasury to adequately fund NPA in face of VBS, Steinhoff scandals

VBS Bank live logo

VBS Bank live logo

Published Oct 19, 2023


The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) claims that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has not done a good enough job of combating corruption, especially in relation to the VBS heists and Steinhoff, and that it needs more resources.

Cosatu Parliamentary Coordinator Matthew Parks said in an interview yesterday, as Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana tabled the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement on November 1, it was critical for the National Treasury to allocate adequate resources to boost the NPA, the South African Police Service and the courts so that they would be equipped to prioritise corruption cases.

Parks said, "Millions of workers and pensioners' hard-earned money was looted. Many plunged into despair and poverty. Municipalities (were)robbed.“

Two South African Municipal Workers' Union shop stewards were assassinated for blowing the whistle on VBS.

A forensic report had been done naming the implicated, yet years later, not one person has been tried let alone convicted.

"It's a national shame. We've built a culture of impunity where mass theft has been normalised," it said.

Parks said the NPA was under-resourced with critical vacancies, but its leadership had promised much upon appointment and had thus far delivered little if anything at all.

"This is not the only case. Steinhoff has seen little movement yet Germany is acting! We simply cannot continue to condone a culture of corruption. If the leadership of the NPA has run out of ideas, then they should make way for those who are willing to declare war on crime and corruption," Parks said.

In a statement made public on Wednesday, Cosatu Limpopo expressed its disapproval of the incredibly lax punishments meted out by the legal system to individuals found guilty of significant crimes, such as corruption, describing it as a rot that must be eradicated from South African society.

Cosatu was reacting to a NPA statement regarding the plea bargaining, which was entered into with some of those the trade union called "criminals involved in the VBS shenanigans“.

Cosatu Limpopo Provincial Secretary Hangwani Mashao said this was alarming and evoked horror and disgust. "More so because Cosatu shop stewards lost their lives for blowing the whistle on corruption and were assassinated. Furthermore, some shop stewards and members were dismissed from their jobs for taking a stand against corruption."

Former Thulamela municipal manager, Hlengani Maluleke, who was arrested for investing R30 million of municipal funds in the VBS Mutual Bank was slapped with a suspended sentence at the Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

NPA spokesperson in the Limpopo division, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, said the 53-year-old Maluleke was sentenced to five years of imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, after the State entered into a plea and sentence agreement with him.

Maluleke pleaded guilty to contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Maluleke was out on R30 000 bail after he was arrested by the Hawks in February last year for his role in the approval of an unlawful investment in VBS Mutual Bank since VBS was not a bank as defined in the Banks Act.

Malabi-Dzhangi said the Thulamela municipality did not suffer any loss or prejudice.

"The R30 million investment matured and yielded an interest amounting to R735542.50. The investment and the interest were then paid back to the municipality," she said.

Investigations revealed that the municipality had illegally invested an amount of R30 million into VBS for a period of three months.

The chief financial officer (CFO) did not recommend that the money should be invested with VBS, instead, he recommended Standard Bank.

On December 23, 2016, Maluleke overruled the recommendation of the chief financial officer and authorised the opening of an interest-bearing three-month fixed deposit account in the name of Thulamela municipality, as a result of political pressure.

The province's trade union congress said while they understood that each case was considered on its merits and the judiciary had a responsibility to adjudicate justice, their perception in this matter was that the convicted received less than a slap on the wrist.

"This bodes ill for the determination of society to continue to fight against corruption and for the morale of the law enforcement officials to continue to prevent and investigate crime. We need to ensure that criminals such as these face suitable retribution from the authorities and not a mere slap on the wrist,“ it said.