State must send clear message that corruption will not be tolerated

Corruption Watch says it has received an alarming rise in corruption complaints. File photo.
Image: ISTOCK

Almost daily there are reports of millions of rands being siphoned out of the fiscus as corruption and looting of state resources continue unabated.

This week alone the Dispatch reported how the Hawks swooped on Inxuba Yethemba municipality and confiscated  documents crucial to their probe into a R26m corruption and fraud tender case.

This is amid probes by the Special Investigating Unit into many other other corruption claims in SA, lately of Covid-19 graft, including in Eastern Cape municipalities, with the troubled OR Tambo district municipality among them.

The Hawks are also investigating allegations that former Nelson Mandela Bay acting municipal manager Noxolo Nqwazi, ANC interim boss Luyolo Nqakula and businessman Xolani Masela colluded to ensure HT Pelatona Projects was awarded a R24m tender to build 2,000 toilets.

Such allegations of fraud and corruption have been a provincial phenomenon for years, with the tip of the iceberg being how state officials and private entrepreneurs shamelessly colluded to steal money meant for the mourning period for former president Nelson Mandela in 2013.

In most cases, just as with the Mandela funeral scandal, there has been little to no justice served. Dockets involving senior politicians were withdrawn in 2019.  The fact is that the money had disappeared and when such high-profile cases are not successfully prosecuted, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and paints a picture of a province that is not serious about rooting out corruption.

This has a direct impact on the quality of services delivered to residents, as money meant to improve people’s lives is stolen by unscrupulous officials and politicians hell-bent on lining their pockets.

Opposition parties and activists have done their bit by making allegations of corruption to authorities, and to law enforcement agencies.

Now, if corrupt officials and politicians continue escaping with a slap on the wrist, the same vicious cycle of people stealing with impunity will continue.

Announcing an investigation is the first step. But it must be followed up by prosecution if we are to win the war against the cancer that is corruption. When people who are caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar face the music, that sends a stern message to other would-be criminals: corruption will not be tolerated.

This is what South Africans want to see happening.

 

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