Public Service Commission pushes for round-the-clock anti-corruption hotline
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Cape Town - If the Public Service Commission (PSC) has its way, its hotline for the public to report suspected acts of corruption will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It also wants the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) to be toll free for those calling in on cellphones.
The commission made these recommendations in its 2020/21 annual report, tabled at Parliament.
The commission said a key challenge with the hotline was a lack of funding meant the service was currently only available eight hours a day, five days a week.
“This arrangement is creating serious challenges, as members of the public are calling after hours without the assistance of the call centre agents,” it said.
It was also critical the NACH was adequately staffed, so it could operate round the clock.
“This will require additional capacity of the call centre to operate 24/7.”
The commission noted that people generally used mobile phones and there was no toll-free line with cellphone providers.
“Government should pursue service providers to contribute to the free cellphone line,” the commission said.
The report said a total of 852 hotline case reports were generated by the PSC and referrals were made to the relevant departments.
The report states that a range of allegations, including fraud, bribery, abuse of school funds, social grant fraud and nepotism, were being made to the hotline,
“In the 2020/21 financial year, the NACH received 61 490 incoming calls, of which 872 case reports were generated.”
The commission said the number of cases reported during the year under review was slightly lower than the cases reported during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years.
The lower number was blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic and various national lockdown levels, which prevented members of the public from accessing the hotline.
“Despite this, most of the cases received were tip-offs relating to the disaster management funds, which were directed to the relevant law enforcement agencies for investigation.”
The commission noted that more than 56% of cases reported to the NACH were reported by anonymous whistleblowers.
“The majority of the case reports related to social grants fraud involving pension, disability and child support grants committed by members of the public as well as officials.”
The PSC said the consequences of social grant fraud were serious.
“Not only is there a financial implication when loss occurs, but the actual beneficiary who qualified to receive the grant suffers.
“Therefore, the South African Social Security agency must strengthen its internal controls in the management of the social grants,” the commission said.