Johannesburg – The Analysis of Corruption Trends (ACT) report released on Wednesday by Corruption Watch reveals the large extent to which corruption has continued unabated during the first half of 2021.
To date, up to 1 964 whistle-blowers have reported acts of corruption in both the public and private sectors.
From extortion by police through to sextortion by school principals, Corruption Watch – in its fifth instalment of the ACT report – indicated that while South Africans are desperate to be protected, numerous complaints received from the public showed corruption still ruled the day.
Meanwhile, South Africans are desperate and deprived of much-needed protection.
Corruption Watch researcher Melusi Ncala, who penned the report, said the organisation noticed similar trends over the years where common types of corruption ranged from maladministration, dodgy procurement deals, fraud and abuse of authority.
This, he said, suggested that efforts by the public and private sectors to seriously address the scourge of corruption in South Africa were “woefully inadequate”.
“The impact on the majority of people in the country of this failure to act cannot be underestimated, as they continue to be denied access to basic rights and services, and deprived of much-needed protection,” Ncala said.
He also highlighted that whistle-blowers were living in a severely hostile environment, following the murder of Gauteng government official Babita Deokaran in Johannesburg last month.
Deokaran was a witness in the Special Investigating Unit’s personal protection equipment (PPE) corruption investigation that has dogged the provincial health department since 2020.
“The vulnerability of whistle-blowers in South Africa needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, if there is to be any meaningful shift in the efforts to eradicate corruption,” Ncala said.
He added that it would take all sectors of society to unite in order to effectively tackle corruption.
The ACT report, among other things, exposed the fact that corruption by members of the SAPS was on the rise, sitting at 12% on the list.
Ncala said that since 2019, Corruption Watch reports had highlighted what appears to be an unabated corruption problem in the policing sector, exacerbated by the power vested in the police while lockdown regulations were in force.
In one incident, a woman in Lenasia was arrested for what an official described as an incident of pointing a firearm at her neighbour.
She, however, claimed that because the police did not follow the correct procedures around her arrest, they instead demanded a bribe to circumvent their failure to follow protocols.
The woman, who insisted that she did not own a gun, also alleged that the police officials refused to search her home for the firearm.
The report further found that looting of the public purse through irregular contracts and inflated prices, particularly in the health sector, increased tremendously.
The report also relayed an example where one company, alleged to be owned by a relative of a provincial premier, was said to have received a tender worth R200-million to supply vaccines.
The company in question was found to only have been registered in January this year.
A whistle-blower alleged that a private laboratory was falsifying Covid-19 test results at a price, to enable individuals to travel.
Another alleged a covert operation for the sale of Covid-19 test kits outside a public clinic.
The majority of complaints in the report came from Gauteng, where Corruption Watch is located, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (10%), the Western Cape (9%), and the Eastern Cape (7%).
Disturbingly, the report cites complaints of instances where principals operated outside the regulations of their provincial departments by hiring unqualified teachers and soliciting sexual favours from those temporary teachers to safeguard their jobs.
“The ACT report is an indication that anti-corruption bodies need to tighten the leash on corruption, as looters come in all shapes and sizes, and endanger even the most basic of human rights afforded by our Constitution.
“For whistle-blowers like those who have reported cases to CW, the courage to do so is informed by their belief in a corruption-free South Africa, a country that protects them and prevents the deaths of the likes of Deokaran in the same spirit,” Ncala said.