Correctional Services Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla today urged public servants in South Africa to shun corruption, following in the example of an “incorruptible” public service in the neighbouring Botswana.
“Civil servants in Botswana, you will encounter this when you visit that country, are so rule-driven — it is painful. Civil servants in Botswana are so conscious of the duties that they must perform. Everyone in uniform, and is an employee in Botswana … to think that you can corrupt them you’re going to struggle,” Makwetla said as he addressed correctional services officers in Pretoria.
“That starts from the ordinary, democratic, law enforcement roadblocks. Whoever has paid a bribe at a roadblock in Botswana, could you please raise your hand. There is no one. Botswana police are known to be like that.”
Makwetla said South Africa, like other African nations, is impeded by the scourge of corruption, particularly in the public service.
“Corruption in this country is something that we have to take seriously. It depends on us – me and you. Communities are made up of individuals and it is how each of these individuals applies themselves in life that determines the overall impact of these communities,” he said.
“As South Africans, we got to decide whether we go the route of Botswana, in terms of the success of an independent African state written about even in UN literature … but we can go the route of Nigeria – with all those resources, that oil that should have made Nigeria the richest country by far, and even the population, but ended up in the chaos in which Nigeria is.”
Makwetla said prisons in South Africa are not that weak, but the problem is corruption, with officers aiding inmates to escape.
“I’ve lived in Botswana for five years, and I’ve never heard of a prison escape in Botswana. Never, in all the five years. Maybe I wasn’t monitoring the news properly. I’ve never heard [people] in Botswana saying their offenders have escaped from a prison. In Botswana it’s unheard of,” said the deputy minister.
Earlier, the department of correctional services (DCS) said criminals serving time in South Africa’s 243 prisons will be safely kept behind bars over the festive season, a period characterised by inmates’ launching spirited bids to escape jail to spend time with loved ones.
“As we all know, we have just begun the festive season. It is without any doubt, that time [when] everyone wants to spend time with family and friends. It is also time when inmates in our centres become desperate to escape [jail] for various reasons which include perpetuation of criminal activities or simply the inability to resist the urge of wanting to be with friends and family at this time,” said Grace Molatedi, department of correctional services’ Gauteng regional commissioner.
Molatedi made the remarks at the launch Operation Vala at Baviaanspoort Correctional Centre in Pretoria.
“The festive season poses a very serious challenge for the department. It is for this reason, that an effort is made towards the enhancement and security measures that are put in place at different correctional centres during the festive season.
She said Operation Vala aims to tighten security measures at all correctional facilities across South Africa.
“It aims to prevent festive season incidents, and to increase visibility and involvement of managers at all levels in operational activities. All law enforcement agencies, the justice, crime prevention and security cluster – including the department of correctional services are expected to be more vigilant in ensuring that the safety of our people, especially during this time of the year, is enhanced,” said Molatedi.
“It is our task to ensure that those who have wronged the law, remain behind bars, and continue to serve their sentences as imposed by the courts. Security is not something we take lightly.”
– African News Agency (ANA)