Lt-Gen Yolisa Matakata, acting national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks). File photo: ANA/Jonisayi Maromo

Pretoria - Acting national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) Lt-Gen Yolisa Matakata has expressed concern about the alarming rate at which public officials are continually being found to be in conflict with the law.

From November 1, 2017 to date, about 92 officials from different government entities across all the provinces had been arrested by the Hawks' serious corruption crime units for various offences, including corruption, armed robbery, and theft, she said in a statement.

"The breakdown of the perpetrators comprises, among others, 28 police officers, 45 traffic officers, six home affairs and other government officials, including municipalities. A staggering 34 traffic officers out of 45 are from Limpopo alone."

Those who were entrusted with running government affairs were supposed to do so with honour and integrity. They were supposed to be beyond reproach to ensure that public confidence in sectors of government was maintained. 

"Disturbingly, Limpopo province has seen a large number of officials being arrested. Most recently 34 traffic officials and 10 police officials were arrested for corrupt activities, followed closely by Gauteng."

Matakata said the Hawks' mandate was to return the trust of citizens in government institutions and to provide accountability. 

The enhanced reforms that the Hawks had undertaken should be deepened and concluded, based on best practices, to enable the continuing rigorous efforts of building and entrenching the rule of law.

“Our justice system is based on the rule of law, which is, in fact, enshrined in our Constitution. It means that the law applies to everyone – no one is above the law. And the law must be applied the same regardless of status or any other consideration.

“Our country has long suffered from a perception that it is a highly corrupt country. We cannot allow corruption to eat at the very foundation of this country and we cannot turn a blind eye to it," she said. 

“The integrity and reputation within our government system must never be undermined and must remain a competitive edge and a source of pride for our citizenry. The war on corruption cannot be left to government alone. The task of civil society and the press is vital in highlighting corruption, reshaping attitudes, and reversing public apathy toward corruption.

“Corruption is a scourge that can never be tolerated. I thank those who report corruption; they help us in our quest to ensure clean governance and to root out dishonesty in the public service.

“I hold decisively to the view that the Hawks must be fearless in confronting corruption. With these arrests we are under no illusions that we have permanently and completely solved the problem.

“We want to warn those who think they can beat the system and continue to be tempted to transgress, we will make sure they are caught and severely dealt with through our competent justice system,” Matakata said.

African News Agency/ANA