The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) is appalled and disgusted to learn that R134 million was looted in the Bojanala Municipality, North West province. Shocking revelations of this looting spree include the purchase of 2 laptops for R2 million, R359 500 spent on a lunch and travel costs for a one-day trip of 65km and R20 million on septic tanks.
SAFTU is however pleased that the alleged looters, a Municipal Manager and a Businessperson, have been apprehended and now are released on bail. We believe that the looting network extend beyond these two individuals. Therefore, other municipal officials involved in kickbacks and service providers who colluded to inflate prices must as well be arrested.
In this case, and in other cases of corruption, the law enforcement agencies and National Prosecuting Authority must not only strive to recover the looted funds but must set out to incarcerate the criminals behind looting of public funds meant to deliver services for our people. The R134 million is said to have been erroneously transferred to Bojanala Municipality. Its true destination was Rustenburg Municipality where it was meant to build houses. Despite the housing crisis caused by low income for working class households, poverty and backlog in government funded houses, the municipal leaders still have the temerity to loot funds so desperately needed for such services.
Corruption and fiscal austerity are responsible for the collapsing public service. Our calls for clamping down of corruption must grow louder, just as our opposition to fiscal austerity from the National Treasury. The small fraction of sentencing and lack of long-jail-term sentences is an incentive to public officials and businesspeople to continue looting public funds for their personal enrichment without fear. Though the conviction rate in corruption cases is high at 90%, this rate hides the fact that it is only a conviction on extremely small number of cases that are brought before the Specialized Commercial Crimes Unit in the NPA. Corruption has proliferated and festered to the point almost every outsourcing and contracting in the public service, municipalities and higher education institutions is tainted with bribes and kickbacks. The number of cases prosecuted therefore indicates a low rate of prosecutions compared to the actual rate of corruption.
SAFTU calls on people to blow whistle on the acts of corruption in our public institutions, and for government to protect those whistle blowers from persecution and victimisation as a way of encouraging and incentivizing them to expose corrupt activities. Law enforcement agencies must also ensure that as volumes of corruption cases come, they maintain a high conviction rate.