“It is with anger and sadness that we have to report that the corrupt took advantage of the public health crisis to loot the procurement necessitated by Covid-19 and even stooped as low as to steal from the various relief programmes.“
CORRUPTION Watch (CW) said it received 4,780 complaints of corruption at an average rate of 11 complaints a day in 2020, despite lockdown regulations.
The ninth annual corruption report, titled “From Crisis to Action”, released by the organisation provided an overview of its anti-corruption efforts in 2020, a year marred by the Covid-19 pandemic, a defining global health crisis that exposed how deeply the culture of corruption was entrenched in the country.
According to the report, CW said the public was increasingly outraged by the rampant corruption that emerged in relation to procurement and distribution of essential goods and services, including relief packages, necessitated by Covid-19.
It said along with those deplorable acts during a time of emergency, equally shocking were the cases of police and army brutality and abuse of power.
CW’s executive director, David Lewis, said the most frequently reported forms of corruption during the year were maladministration (17% of complaints), procurement corruption (16%) and fraud (15%).
Lewis said those acts of corruption include issues relating to compliance issues, procurement irregularities, soliciting of kickbacks, and fraudulent activities in various state institutions, agencies and departments, as well as businesses.
“Significantly, of these reports, 11% alleged corruption in the police, while 6% point to corruption in schools, 4% to corruption in the health sector, and 3% to corruption in the awarding of driving licences.”
Whistle-blower and community activist Colin Arendse said the police have been implicated in corruption involving a number of managers, with most of them currently appearing in court on criminal charges.
Arendse said the kind of systemic corruption they as activists have been faced with at ground level was reflected in the lack of service delivery on the Cape Flats and the “crime mayhem” communities were exposed to daily.
The police were approached for comment on what measures were taken by the department in fighting corruption, but did not respond.
Lewis said while it was pleasing to report that most of CW’s key campaigns have continued throughout the lockdown periods, the volume of reports received has increased.
“It is with anger and sadness that we have to report that the corrupt took advantage of the public health crisis to loot the procurement necessitated by Covid-19 and even stooped as low as to steal from the various relief programmes,” said Lewis.
He said that while the nation united to limit the ravages of Covid-19, some politicians, public servants and business people stuck their hands further into the public purse.