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'When it smells fishy‚ then it is fishy' - Lungisa Fuzile tells state capture inquiry

Former Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile.
Former Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile.

Former director-general Lungisa Fuzile ended his testimony before the state capture inquiry on Thursday with some last words of advice.

“When you see something‚ when it smells fishy‚ then it is fishy. You’ve got no excuse to say 'I thought it was smelling good'‚” he said.

Fuzile was given an opportunity to share with the commission some lessons that he felt the chairperson‚ deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo‚ should note in relation to an environment that could lead to state capture and corruption.

On the top of his list was for public officials‚ including directors-general and their deputies‚ to know the law and stick to it. 

He also emphasised the importance of sticking to the rules at all times.

“If you know the rules‚ you know the law; it helps to make sure that first time when a person tries to do something that is illegal‚ to let them know. Let them know in no uncertain terms that you are not going to be party to crime…

"In my case‚ it is either something is legal‚ therefore we can consider it. It is either something is in the national interest therefore‚ we can debate it. Once it is illegal‚ or is not in the national interest‚ then it is off the table.”

He also commended former finance ministers Trevor Manuel‚ Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene for creating an environment at the National Treasury where officials held the constitution close to their hearts and respected the laws of the country.

However‚ Fuzile lamented that there were many officials who were close to what was unfolding in government and who chose to keep quiet.

“Even at points where there were signs that state capture was happening‚ corruption was happening…there are many people who chose not to see it.

"I don’t think that with all that we were watching playing itself in front of us‚ as South Africans we can say that we were shocked by the very last events that came from the Gupta leaks…”

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