The National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit has been granted freeze orders of R14 billion for state capture-related cases, and around R8.6 billion in corrupt proceeds have been returned to the state, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed at the State of the Nation address.
This was one of the strides the government had made to “stop to state capture, to dismantle the criminal networks within the state and to ensure that perpetrators faced justice,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa detailed the extensive measures implemented to dismantle the criminal networks that had infiltrated the state, noting the appointment of individuals with integrity to lead key law enforcement and state agencies through independent and transparent processes.
Highlighting the progress made, the President announced the prosecution of over 200 individuals involved in corruption, with many more under investigation.
Additionally, the revitalization of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has led to the collection of R4.8 billion in unpaid taxes, a direct result of evidence presented at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
“We have taken steps, including through new legislation, to strengthen our ability to prevent money laundering and fraud and secure our removal from the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force,” Ramaphosa said.
In a move to bolster the country's anti-corruption framework, Ramaphosa revealed the establishment of the Investigating Directorate within the National Prosecuting Authority.
This specialised unit, soon to become a permanent entity with full investigative powers pending legislation, has significantly advanced the fight against corruption and other serious crimes.
The President also noted the collaboration with the business sector to develop a digital forensic capability to support the Directorate, with plans for broader application in law enforcement.
Recognising the need for further action, Ramaphosa pledged to introduce additional measures to strengthen anti-corruption agencies, protect whistleblowers, and prevent undue influence in procurement processes.
This commitment is grounded in recommendations from the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council and includes new legislation aimed at regulating lobbying and safeguarding the integrity of public representatives.
Beyond just fighting corruption, Ramaphosa's address touched on the revitalization of the country's law enforcement capabilities, which had been significantly weakened.
The administration has bolstered the police force by recruiting 30,000 officers over the last three years and deploying an additional 5,000 to Public Order Policing. Operation Shanela, a new initiative targeting crime hotspots, has already resulted in over 285,000 arrests.
Efforts to secure the nation's economic infrastructure and borders have also seen notable successes, including the reduction of security incidents on the rail network and the prevention of over 100,000 illegal border crossings.
“The Economic Infrastructure Task Teams that are operational in all provinces have had important successes in combatting cable theft, damage to critical infrastructure and illegal mining. Through close collaboration with the private sector, we have seen a reduction in security incidents on the rail network,” Ramaphosa said.
President Ramaphosa lamented the real tragedy of state capture: the diversion of attention and resources from critical areas such as economic growth and job creation.
However, with the administration's concerted efforts to equip law enforcement agencies and strengthen the country's anti-corruption framework, South Africa is making tangible progress towards eradicating corruption and fostering a climate of accountability and integrity, Ramaphosa said.