The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) welcomes the conviction and sentencing of two former employees of a municipality in the Western Cape, to a 5 year prison term. Even though it took four years for justice to be done, SAFTU is pleased that, at long last culprits were sentenced.

These employees have been convicted of corruption, in which they fraudulently pocketed about R138 000 from manipulating purchases of burial sites.

That public officials and servants are involved in defrauding bereaved families, and profiting from deaths through burials, is a shocking barometer of how deep this society has sunk into moral degeneration and soaked in corruption.

From lower levels of State institutions such as schools where principals are accused of selling teaching and administrative posts to SOEs and upper echelons of departments where outsourced goods and services are inflated, leading to the State bleeding 35 – 40% of its procurement budget through tendering and outsourcing corruption; corruption has its claws deep in the public sector.

In addition to strained budgets in public institutions as a result of budget cuts, corruption decapacitate public institutions and paralyse service delivery to the detriment of the beneficiaries, about 70 – 80% of the population.

For the reasons that corruption does not only involve stealing and defrauding, but moreso because it robs the public and disadvantages beneficiaries of public services, corruption crimes must be swiftly dealt with and culprits brought to book.

The private sector is not immune to corruption. In fact, that is where the bulk of corruption takes place, hidden behind suits and high-rise offices. Private sector crimes cost this country and many nations across the world fortunes in illicit financial flows, estimated at 7% of GDP of South Africa annually. It also costs shareholders, who at times happen to be pension fund holders of workers.

The reason why a huge bulk of corruption takes place in the private sector is because private sector is the bedrock of a system based on accumulation of profits and amassment of riches – capitalism. Therefore, in order to multiply their earnings, not only do capitalists cut wages, freeze wages or retrench workers, but also engage in corporate fraud and tax dodging schemes. Capitalism is the root of corruption.

Corruption in the public and private sector must be clamped down.

The ruling of the Mossel Bay Magistrate’s Court must be emulated. This restores hope in the general public, who have grown hopeless of the justice system when it comes to
corruption cases; and serve as a deterrent to the thieves who have lined up in government to milk public resources.
Even though this ruling restores hope, scepticism still abides: can the courts bring big fishes to book, or they merely catch small fishes? Rich thieves have been evading accountability and justice, and the jury must set itself the task of restoring hope and
moral in its powers by trying and sentencing big fishes like Markus Jooste, who defrauded shareholders and led to the biggest corporate scandal of the recent period in South Africa.

But this should not invoke sparring of any sympathy for the so called “small thieves”/”small fishes”. The parasitic black bourgeoisie which attempts to accumulate riches by looting public resources tends to blackmail us whenever some of their “small fishes” are sentenced by courts. We share in their bemoaning that big fishes are not tried, successfully convicted and sentenced; but we reject their fake morality. Courts of law must try, convict and sentence all culprits of corruption from the public sector to the private sector.

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