South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on March 23 on heightened  measures to combat Covid-19. Picture: GCIS
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on March 23 on heightened measures to combat Covid-19. Picture: GCIS

NPA yet to form coronavirus anti-corruption units

By Bongani Hans Time of article published Mar 24, 2020

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Johannesburg - The details over the anti-corruption units to be formed by the prosecuting authority to operate during the Covid-19 crisis have not been finalised, said NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke. 

Announcing that the country would from Thursday midnight be on a 21-day lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the units would work with the judiciary to expedite the prosecution and sentencing of people found to be involved in corruption for profiteering from the coronavirus crisis. 

Government is making available billions of Rands in a stimulus package aimed at assisting businesses and vulnerable during the lockdown and Ramaphosa assured the nation that these funds would be used for their intended purpose.

When contacted to elaborate on the units, Makeke said: “No details yet being worked at. The President's announcement was only last night. 

“Consultations within the justice cluster must unfold and details will be firmed up soon.”

Addressing the nation on Monday night, Ramaphosa said the government expected everyone concerned to act on the interest of the nation instead of “their own selfish interests”. 

“We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis. 

“I have directed that special units of the NPA be put together to act immediately and arrest those against whom we find evidence of corruption. 

“We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail,” said Ramaphosa. 

During a ministerial press briefing on Tuesday to outline steps to implement Ramaphosa’s lockdown announcement, Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told journalists that opportunists who attempt to loot bailout funds allocated to Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) would not be tolerated.

“We are very clear that we won't condone misuse by both our officials and also by the entrepreneurs who would be applying for this funding, we are going to make sure that we apply the letter of the law the provisions that the president has indicated. 

“But we are also going to institute a penalty for everybody who misuse the facility to repay plus 10%,” said Ntshavheni.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said funding for workers wages, which is aimed at assisting companies to survive the crisis, would also be protected from corruption through a hefty penalty and even jail terms for those who would be caught breaking the law.

Trade, Industry and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the government has heard allegations of certain businesses "unjustifiably” increasing prices of essential products. 

“The Consumer and Competition Commission met yesterday, and are investigating 11 firms who have been found to be selling products like face masks, hand sanitisers and others for high prices, abusing the situation. 

“More firms are now being investigated and prosecution would follow. The penalties are quite sharp as there is a penalty of R1 million,  up to 10% of a company’s turnover and up to one year in jail,” said Patel. 

Political Bureau

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