Tough stance yields results
MORE than 520 KwaZulu-Natal government employees and suppliers were convicted last year for embezzling R28.7-million of taxpayers' money.
Working with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the special investigating unit (SIU) in the province, the government opened 594 dockets between April 2011 and March this year against employees alleged to have embezzled R104.6-million.
This was done through the fraudulent issuing of tenders and the manipulation of supply chain management policies.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, speaking after delivering his budget vote in the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg, said 517 cases were referred to court and 527 employees were arrested for misappropriating R90.5-million.
He said 529 people were convicted for embezzling R28.7-million, while only two out of 594 cases were acquittals. A total of R727838 has since been recovered from the 594 criminal cases.
"There is widespread corruption associated with supply chain and procurement sections, fraudulent issuing of tenders and contracts to unskilled and undeserving entrepreneurs who advance cash as proof of quality and capacity to perform as basis of successful award of contracts," said Mkhize.
"All contracts should pass the scrupulous test of the value for money through a fair and transparent competitive process. Criminality in the award of tenders must land those involved in prison."
His office and the KwaZulu-Natal SIU have referred 192 cases for disciplinary hearings and five cases have been sent to the Asset Forfeiture Unit. More that R2.7-million was recovered after disciplinary action against government employees.
He said the government would continue to take a firm stand against corruption.
"Fraud and corruption is a cancer which, if not arrested, has the potential to irreparably harm the international standing of the country and its reputation among citizens."