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Police rot tops list in Corruption Watch report

Tankiso Makhetha Investigative reporter
Image: Gareth Wilson

Police corruption topped the list of complaints received from the public and private institutions in the first half of this year, according to Corruption Watch. 

Corruption Watch released its analysis of corruption trends yesterday, which  ranked police corruption at the top of reports, revealing the  extent of corruption based on  complaints it received. 

According to the report, the most complaints it received were against  the policing sector with 12% of complaints attributed to it, while 8% of complaints were attributed to procurement and maladministration in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, including mismanagement of funds such as the temporary employment relief scheme intended to provide support. 

“Police corruption continued to dominate, topping the reports at 12%. Since 2019, Corruption Watch reports have highlighted what appears to be an unabated corruption problem in the policing sector, worsened by the powers invested in the police while lockdown regulations are in force,” reads the report. 

Corruption Watch stated that complaints ranged from extortion and abuse of authority by the police, school principals extorting sexual favours from temporary teachers to safeguard their jobs, and Covid-19 related graft, highlighting the collusion between the public and private sectors. These represent some of the key hotspots over this period.

It further stated that 6% of complaints resulted from school corruption and 4% from public housing.  

Melusi Ncala, researcher at the organisation said: “When reading the individual accounts of corruption in this report, it is quite evident that the more things change the more they stay the same. Communities are vulnerable because police officers care more about securing dodgy deals with criminal networks. Learners in schools and patients in health facilities are at the mercy of self-serving and abusive officials.” 

Ncala said the organisation had noticed similar trends over the years, where the most common types of corruption experienced included maladministration (16%), procurement corruption (16%) and abuse of authority (15%), which suggested that efforts by the public and private sectors to seriously address the corruption problem in SA were inadequate. 

“It stands to reason that the majority of complaints – 42% of the total reports – came from the largest province, Gauteng, where Corruption Watch is located, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (10%), the Western Cape (9%) and the Eastern Cape (7%),” said Ncala. 

In relation to corruption at schools, Ncala said a number of whistle-blowers in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo pointed to abuse of authority, frequently by principals and the chairpersons of school governing bodies, as a major concern. Also common were reports of embezzlement or theft of school funds and irregularities in employment processes. 

Gauteng and the Western Cape emerged as hotspots of public housing corruption, where most whistle-blowers exposed irregularities in the allocation of RDP houses, fraud in relation to the housing waiting lists and abuse of authority. Similarly, the majority of corruption reports dealing with the government’s response to Covid-19 occurred in Gauteng (34%), KwaZulu-Natal (18%), and Western Cape (14%), with a significant number emanating from Mpumalanga (10%).

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