Tony Yengeni debacle shames us all

So the great pretender and convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni is back in his family's bosom, not that he was ever far removed from his familiar home comforts.

So the great pretender and convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni is back in his family's bosom, not that he was ever far removed from his familiar home comforts.

Not even the most cynical party stalwart can now claim that the ANC's former chief whip did not receive preferential treatment before, during and after his brief sojourn in prison. He served only four months of his four-year sentence for defrauding parliament.

Ululating party faithful bore him to jail on their shoulders like a conquering hero four months ago and many of the same motley mob welcomed him on his release from Malmesbury Prison yesterday morning.

No one denies the prominent role Yengeni played in the liberation of South Africa. But he and many of his cronies in the upper echelons of the ruling party clearly still do not understand that revolutionary credentials do not entitle anyone to guzzle from the public trough.

We should not forget that Yengeni got off lightly. He pleaded guilty to fraud and not corruption after a deal he struck with prosecutors about the 47 percent discount he received for a luxury 4X4.

Yengeni was then chairman of parliament's standing committee on defence and the company was a bidder in the multibillion-rand arms deal.

In sentencing him in the commercial crimes court in Pretoria, Judge Bill Moyses remarked: "What makes the crime even more serious is the planning and ongoing deceit after the benefit became public knowledge. Not only did you not disclose the benefit, but thereafter [you] covered up your tracks."

Despite his plea, Yengeni yesterday denied his guilt.

The prisons authorities broke every regulation in the book to ensure Convict Yengeni had an easy time in jail. Now his comrades in arms are treating the convicted fraudster as a hero.

Fortunately he may not hold public office for five years, though he is still a member of the ANC's national executive committee.

What a shame that the ANC can fete a self-confessed fraudster as a hero while professing to be committed to clean governance.

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