We, the undersigned organisations, welcome recent arrests by South African law enforcement agencies in relation to several key corruption cases.
The actions undertaken by the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) over the last few weeks are a step in the right direction and will assist in the long process of rebuilding public confidence and trust in the criminal justice system.
For the first time in almost a decade, we are hopeful that ‘orange overalls’ may well be a reality for the looters and those at the forefront of state capture.
Recent action included:
- The charging of tenderpreneur Edwin Sodi in relation to the Free State asbestos case, as well as several others including former Free State human settlements MEC, Sarah Mlamleli. The AFU also obtained a provisional restraint order against Sodi and his co-accused, allowing it to seize around R300 million in assets;
- The charging of former ANC MP, Vincent Smith, in relation to payments allegedly received from Bosasa;
- The conviction and sentencing of Phillip Truter, and previous arrests in relation to the VBS case;
- The charging of business person Thoshan Panday and senior police officials in KwaZulu Natal in relation to alleged corruption during the 2010 FIFA World Cup;
- Gauteng government adopting SIU recommendations for the suspension of officials in relation to PPE procurement, as well Premier David Makhura’s firing of Health MEC Bandile Masuku based on an interim SIU report; and
- Ongoing revelations related to state capture at the Zondo Commission.
Another hopeful sign that an era of impunity is coming to an end included recent SARS audit findings which cast further light onto the Guptas’ alleged laundering machinery, and a US Court granting the Industrial Development Corporation access to Gupta financial records held at more than a dozen New York banks.
While all of these actions are encouraging, we are acutely aware that this is a mere speck against the sheer volume of alleged corruption cases at all levels of government and within the private sector. National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, has described it as a “tiny pinprick on a massive iceberg”.
Furthermore, the arrests made so far do not include those who may have served in more senior positions within the state or political parties, and who may have had a hand in influencing corrupt deals. We also expect law enforcement to act with equal vigor against corruption in the private sector to dispel the notion that private sector corruption is treated with leniency.
While we applaud the fact that law enforcement is beginning to crack down on corruption, we must remain vigilant in the face of a renewed fight back campaign by those implicated in state capture and corruption. These forces seem to have been primed to anticipate the arrest of senior politicians and to mobilise in their defense.
While many journalists have been playing an effective role in exposing corruption, it is deeply concerning that there appears to be collusion between elements within the media and those who may have a case to answer for. It is hoped that applicable media oversight bodies will probe this phenomenon.
We reject the notion that cleaning out corruption is the equivalent of using state apparatus to fight political battles. If those charged with corruption believe they are innocent, then they should not have any fears about appearing in Court, or facing media and public scrutiny.
We furthermore reiterate our support for the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, respect its integrity and look forward to former President Jacob Zuma’s appearance before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo next month.
In the interest of transparency and accountability, we call on the government and President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that the Political Party Funding Act is implemented as a matter of urgency. Revelations regarding Edwin Sodi allegedly funding the ANC and particular politicians, while being a beneficiary of a state tender demonstrates the necessity for the Act and Regulations to be finalised and implemented, without being reopened for further discussion.
In addition, we support the call for the exclusion of ‘politically exposed persons’ from doing business with the state. This call was amplified by the South African Council of Churches, Cosatu and others in the business sector and civil society. Over and above legislation in this regard, political will is required to ensure implementation.
There is a growing need to ensure that all forms of state capture and corruption are addressed at various levels – nationally, provincially and in municipalities. Tackling the scale of corruption in South Africa requires a national effort which must involve all citizens and progressive formations and institutions taking an active stance against the scourge. Support for various initiatives against corruption by different sectors of society must be amplified.
Furthermore, government should finalise the adoption of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) document and act to ensure its implementation.
The moment that we are in, requires not only a sharp focus on Covid-19 procurement and corruption, but simultaneously being vocal about the systemic capture and looting that continues to undermine our democracy.
We cannot allow the looters to avoid prison by activating their networks, engineering campaigns of disinformation and reversing the gains that are being made to clean out the rot.
As the country anticipates more arrests over the next few weeks and months, we must remain wary of attempts being made to derail progress, and be prepared to counter this using the legal and peaceful means at our disposal.
Active Citizens Movement
Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute
Business Leadership South Africa
Cala University Students Association
Centre for Social Change
Citizens of Conscience
Coalition of the Poor
Congress of Business and Economics
Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre
Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution
Covid Comms SA
Gandhi Development Trust
Joe Slovo Foundation
Johannesburg Against Injustice
Legal Resources Centre
Market Users Committee
Muslim Judicial Council
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse
Patriotic Movement SA
Phoenix Settlement Trust
Public Affairs Research Institute
Religions for Peace SA
South African Food Sovereignty Campaign
South African Tamil Federation
Survivors of State Capture at SARS
The Angel Network
The Teddy Bear Foundation
Union of Muslim Students’ Association
United Front of Civics
Uniting Reformed Church of Struisbaai