’Corruption will continue because many are afraid to speak up’

By Thabo Makwakwa, Kailene Pillay Time of article published Sep 24, 2021

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Durban - HUMAN rights activist and violence monitor Dr Mary De Haas said corruption would continue uninterrupted because while many people were willing to talk, many were afraid because they were not protected.

De Haas was reacting to the Analysis of Corruption Trends (ACT) report released on Wednesday by Corruption Watch which revealed the large extent to which corruption had continued unabated during the first half of this year.

To date, up to 1 964 whistle-blowers reported acts of corruption in both the public and private sectors.

The report indicated that while South Africans were desperate to be protected, numerous complaints received from the public showed corruption still ruled the day.

Meanwhile, South Africans were desperate and deprived of much-needed protection.

Corruption Watch researcher Melusi Ncala, who penned the report, said the organisation noticed similar trends over the years where common types of corruption ranged from maladministration, dodgy procurement deals, fraud, and abuse of authority.

This, he said, suggested that efforts by the public and private sectors to seriously address the scourge of corruption in South Africa were “woefully inadequate”.

“The impact on the majority of people in the country of this failure to act cannot be underestimated, as they continue to be denied access to basic rights and services, and deprived of much-needed protection,” Ncala said.

He also highlighted that whistle-blowers were living in a severely hostile environment, following the murder of Gauteng government official Babita Deokaran last month.

Deokaran, formerly from Durban, was a witness in the Special Investigating Unit’s personal protection equipment (PPE) corruption investigation that has dogged the provincial health department since 2020.

“The vulnerability of whistle-blowers in South Africa needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, if there is to be any meaningful shift in the efforts to eradicate corruption,” Ncala said.

He added that it would take all sectors of society to unite in order to effectively tackle corruption.

De Haas felt there seemed to be no hope to resolve corruption because it has become extremely dangerous and that corruption was continuing in both public and private sectors.

“Sometimes when you make a statement and report corruption, those you report to might be the same people working with culprits who kill people. Many whistle- blowers are getting killed.

“What’s worse is that some ministers have close relations with bad people and the same ministers have access to reports from whistle-blowers trying to expose corruption. We need very independent law enforcement agencies to work on corruption cases.

"The cases go on for so long and whistle-blowers lose their jobs because our criminal justice is so broken and criminal cases don't get resolved,” De Haas said.

Further, she said, people must watch their step if they wanted to be whistle-blowers. “No one can be trusted, even in the investigative agencies. People have lost hope in the law enforcement agencies.”

Sizwe Phamla, the national spokesperson of the Congress of the South African Trade Union (Cosatu), said the protection of whistle-blowers was important in the fight against corruption.

“This is not an overnight fight, but it needs all social partners to support the efforts because the best way to defeat corruption is through successful prosecution of the corrupt individuals. We have noted some gradual progress with the suspension of senior politicians, but the answer is prosecution and recovery of stolen items, not just suspension from positions,” said Phamla.

Political analyst Professor Tumi Senokoane felt the report showed that nothing had changed for the better, but instead, corruption had become worse under leaders who claimed high moral ground.

“Only those who are enemies of these leaders shall suffer the consequences of corruption, but those close allies remain untouchable or are granted leave or are transferred to other responsibilities.”

According to Ncala, Corruption Watch believed whistle-blowers and members of the public should be protected, but said in some cases which need to be investigated, “their names were unfortunately revealed”.

“The vulnerability of whistle-blowers in South Africa needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency if there is to be any meaningful shift in the efforts to eradicate corruption. As key role-players in dismantling patterns of abuse and impunity by the corrupt, whistle-blowers deserve commitment and support from the highest echelons of power to ensure their safety, and to create an environment that encourages reporting corruption,” read the report.

Daily News

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