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A journalist from Cyprus, George Psyllides, tells this story about how his country had been overrun by rampant corruption and criminality a few years ago after many of their politicians just couldn’t keep their grubby fingers out of the cookie jar.

But there were genuine signs of hope, he says, after a major government clampdown and several politicians and prominent figures were arrested and ended up behind bars, which is apparently rare if not unprecedented in Cyprus where major scandals are often swept under the carpet.

Fast forward to four years later, to 2018, and the bubble of hope had burst - none of those skellums jailed for corruption actually served the time they were sentenced to, courtesy of the government’s generous decision to allow them early releases and presidential pardons.

Sounds all-too-familiar a story, doesn’t it?

In fact, we in South Africa are still a couple of steps behind the Cypriots when it comes to fighting corruption.

They at least succeeded in making arrests and sentencing a few people for their dirty deeds.

We’re still stuck at square one. Apart from convicting a couple of small fries, we haven’t put anyone of note behind bars for corruption in recent times despite persistent government pledges to end this debilitating scourge.

Despite a plethora of evidence at commissions implicating people in high office - including some Cabinet ministers, MPs and senior government officials - none of the obvious suspects are walking around in orange overalls yet.

What will it take for us to realise this feeding frenzy of greed has to stop? It is costing the country dearly.

As one financial journalist so succinctly pointed out recently, state capture has wiped out a third of the country’s R4.9 trillion GDP.

If that doesn’t sober us into decisive action soon, then nothing will.

Yes, it may be true we didn’t join the struggle to be poor. We joined because of our pledge to work tirelessly towards creating a better, more equal and stable society for all.

What frightens many of us is how the culture of corruption is spreading like some infectious disease across all sectors of our population.

It’s evident among office staffers who steal from the stationery cupboard; municipal mayors who stuff their pockets with millions meant for the poor; and sleazy tenderpreneurs who rake in billions for tasks they failed to perform.

The last straw came when I read of suspicions that some MPs might have stolen leather-bound copies of our sacred Constitution - the supreme law of the land - during a recent induction programme in Parliament.

How low can one go? I muttered in disgust, although parliamentary officials rushed to claim it was all a “misunderstanding”.

Most South Africans are now tired of promises from President Cyril Ramaphosa, Shamila Batohi and her prosecutions team, the Hawks and the SAPS - they want to see concrete action.

You’ll be amazed at what a few early arrests and convictions will do to boost public confidence and morale among gatvol South Africans.