Corruption not as common as thought

Pertunia Ratsatsi and Sapa

Pertunia Ratsatsi and Sapa

Public impressions of corruption and the actual size of the problem are hugely different, a study presented at the National Anti-Corruption Forum in Pretoria yesterday showed.

The base-line study on corruption in the private sector showed that, while bribes occurred at only 11,5percent of the companies surveyed, workers at 74percent of companies believed corruption existed.

"This shows that negative perceptions are one of the biggest challenges we have in the fight against corruption," said Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.

The survey commissioned by Business Against Crime looked at 760 companies in 14 sectors of industry across South Africa.

Fraser-Moleketi said the media should go beyond investigative reporting to include a more empowering and educational role in creating an understanding and an awareness of corruption.

She said it was wrong to exploit someone's plight to sell newspapers and that not enough positive articles were being published on the good work being done in combating and preventing corruption.

"High-profile cases such as the Jacob Zuma trial and Travelgate contribute to the negative psychosis of South Africa being corrupt," she said.

She added that in the past year, the focus of the media had not only been on the government, but the attention had increasingly been placed on the role of business in corruption.

The survey found that middle management was mostly involved in accepting and demanding bribes as well as offering and paying bribes.

It showed the most prevalent forms of corruption were in the awarding of quotes and tenders, followed by theft from companies and black economic empowerment "fronting".

While money bribes were most prevalent, so-called kickbacks and even gifts and favours were also used to establish corrupt relationships.

Bribes of less than R1000 were most prevalent, but there were also many cases in which more was paid and even recorded instances where more than a R1million was exchanged. - Sapa