Justice Minister Jeff Radebe. Photo: Candice Chaplin.

Pretoria - Government officials convicted of corruption will be named and shamed, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced on Sunday.

“In the next few days, we will be publishing all the names of people who have been convicted in cases of corruption, and all those whose assets have either been frozen or have been forfeited to the state,” he told reporters in Pretoria.

This was being done “so the public will know these rotten apples of South African society”.

Radebe said officials were “working out the details” of whether to use electronic media, newspapers, radio or television to publish the information.

Responding to a question about whether publication might pose legal problems, Radebe said the names were already public knowledge.

“It's public knowledge. The records of our courts indicate that, so there is no problem whatsoever to indicate those people.... Cases of freezing orders as well as forfeitures is (also) public knowledge.

“We want to ensure the public is conscious of what has happened, because for some time, when people talk about corruption, it's just a number. We now want to do this in a meaningful way,” he said.

Earlier, Radebe said the government's anti-corruption task team (ACTT) had made “good progress” since 2010 in recovering the proceeds of corruption.

“Criminal assets of 59 people, to the value of R816 million, have already been frozen. Nearly R78m has already been forfeited and returned to the state.”

He also revealed that the ACTT, working with the department of rural development and land reform, had recovered three farms, valued at R59m, which “were lost through acts of corruption”.

A further five farms, valued at R74m, “have been frozen and should be recovered soon”.

Over the past three years, 237 corrupt officials had been arrested.

“(A total of) 32 have been convicted, while only two have been acquitted; the other 203 (cases) are still before the courts.”

Singling out Limpopo, he said further “good progress” had been made in terms of the national government's intervention in that province.

“The ACTT is currently investigating 39 criminal cases involving fraud and corruption. This includes 29 persons and four companies, (which) were brought before the court as part of the ongoing criminal investigations.”

A total of 87 people had been identified as “having potentially benefited (by) more than R5m each from corrupt activities”.

The assets of 32 people who had “personally benefited (by) R5m each” had been frozen.

Radebe said the use of “freezing orders” was a very important weapon in the fight against corruption, “to prevent those involved... from benefiting from ill-gotten gains while their cases are being finalised”. - Sapa