Johannesburg - Local government is the most corrupt institution in South Africa, followed by the traffic police and schools.

This is according to the tip-offs received by Corruption Watch from the public, a year since the organisation was started.

Corruption Watch is a non-profit organisation that reports, investigates and researches incidents of corruption based on information given to them by the public.

“While (these) corruption reports on their own cannot be taken to represent the state of corruption in the whole country, they are an insight into the nature and ways in which corruption manifests in people’s lives,” said the organisation’s executive director David Lewis.

Since it launched in January last year, it has received more than 3 223 reports of corruption from across South Africa, although the highest concentration of reports came from Gauteng.

About a quarter of all incidents revolved around corruption in local government, although the organisation could not immediately say which governments were the worst culprits.

“Corruption has been widely reported in procurement, with people channelling funds to personal accounts, exerting power to cover up for corrupt acts, and distributing funds and food to secure votes in local elections,” said Lewis.

This year, the organisation said it would focus on corruption in education, after one-tenth of the reports it received were school related.

“This involves theft of funds, goods and equipment by principals and teachers. Even more disturbing, are cases which indicate that parents - through school governing bodies - are also involved in the corrupt awarding of tenders,” said Lewis.

Small towns would also be more closely scrutinised by the organisation, as 40 percent of reports were from such towns across South Africa.

“We believe that the reason for the high number of small-town corruption reports is a result of a lack of options and channels that people have for reporting and fighting corruption,

“There is limited access to media or supportive NGOs and legal resources in these areas,” said Lewis.

Corruption Watch committed itself to protecting whistle-blowers and said any report could be made anonymously.

But it said it would help its investigations if people left contact details.

In April last year, the organisation highlighted corruption in the Joburg metro police department, and by October, the City of Joburg had implemented an anti-corruption plan based on Corruption Watch’s recommendations.

“Corruption is a conspiracy against the public,” said Lewis, who called on people to report any related incidents.

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The Star