Parliament shocked that corruption offenders get off with slaps on wrist

Parliament shocked that corruption offenders get off with slaps on wrist

Themba Godi, chairperson of Scopa. Picture: Gallo Images

Scopa discovers it is nearly impossible for a state official to commit corruption and end up in jail.

Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has expressed disappointment that none of the cases investigated and prosecuted by the government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) was resolved with conviction of the offenders.

The committee said it was shocked to find that of all the finalised case were settled through plea bargaining, which meant the offenders went scot-free.

“None of the cases was fully prosecuted through convictions, meaning that all of them are outcomes where corrupt people have negotiated their way out of prison, which largely defeats the objective of using sentencing as a deterrent against corruption,” said the committee chairperson, Themba Godi, yesterday.

Godi said the case of former SAPS procurement head General Hamilton Hlela was of grave concern to the committee. He said the fact that Hlela was fined R80 000 for a bribery he allegedly facilitated in the awarding of a R1 billion contract was unforgiveable.

He said there were many other cases where the ACTT did a shabby job, for which the government political leadership had to answer.

Previously the ACTT was found to have neglected its duty to investigate and report on corruption in government departments and state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, Denel and Prasa. The ACTT was once co-chaired by former Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza.

Godi yesterday said his committee might ask the political leadership responsible for the ACTT to appear before the committee to answer for the team’s failure to do its work. He said it appeared that there was a “lack of political leadership over the process to make its impact felt on the ground and in the eyes of the public.”

“Going forward, Scopa will be meeting with the ACTT on a quarterly basis to make sure that the committee keeps tabs on the work that they do because the fight against corruption is very important,” said Godi.

The department officials agreed with the committee that the state of affairs in the team’s work was not good.

“Our worry is that it why it needed parliament to probe this matter for them to tell us the wrongdoing that had been taking place. Why did the group of ministers headed by Jeff Radebe not pick up these matters in their monitoring reports they get quarterly?” Godi asked.

“This impression that we are not serious about fighting corruption is not unfounded, as shown by the work of the ACTT,” he added. –

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