People profiteering from Covid-19 are like 'hyenas circling wounded prey': Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa has slammed those who benefit through corruption from Covid-19 funds, saying their actions were those of scavengers who acted like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey.
In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa slammed business people, politicians and public servants who aimed to benefit from the pandemic.
“Corruption during a national disaster is a particularly heinous type of crime, and perpetrators are going to be dealt with decisively and harshly.
“It is difficult to understand the utter lack of conscience that leads a business-person who has heeded the call to provide life-saving supplies during a devastating pandemic to inflate the price of a surgical mask by as much as 900%,” said Ramaphosa.
He said it was inexplicable why a councillor would stockpile emergency food parcels meant for the poor for their own family, or why another councillor would divert water tankers en route to a needy community to their own home.
“It is impossible to discern what drives an entire family whose member stole funds meant for unemployed workers to go on a spending spree, buying cars, paying for renovations and beauty treatments, and even tombstones,” said Ramaphosa.
“Attempting to profit from a disaster that is saving the lives of our people every day is the action of scavengers. It is like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey.”
The president said: “As we find ourselves in the grip of the greatest health emergency our country has faced in more than a century, we are witnessing theft by individuals and companies with no conscience.
“We hear stories of alleged corruption in the procurement and deployment of personal protective equipment to fight Covid-19, of companies hiking the prices of essential items during the lockdown and of the illegal diversion of state resources meant for the vulnerable and destitute.”
Ramaphosa has, however, promised that law-enforcement agencies will deal with those implicated.
“Just more than a week ago, I signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate any unlawful or improper conduct in the procurement of goods and services during the national state of disaster.
“This is a broad remit that extends across all spheres of the state and, importantly, provides for civil proceedings to recover misappropriated funds. It enables the SIU to probe each credible allegation made about the theft of Covid-19 funds,” Ramaphosa said.
He said those found to have broken the law to enrich themselves through the Covid-19 crisis would not get to enjoy their spoils, regardless of who they are or with whom they may be connected.
“I have said that Covid-19 presents us with opportunities to change the way we live, do business and govern.
“This moment is definitely a turning point in the fight against corruption,” said Ramaphosa.
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