We don’t need a new graft unit

2013-06-09 14:00

We don’t need another unit or bureau to fight corruption in South Africa.

Although Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu may have had the best intentions when she announced the launch of an anti-corruption bureau in her department this week, establishing another unit isn’t what South Africa needs right now.

To effectively fight this scourge that costs the nation billions of rands each year, the state needs an effective criminal justice system that detects, accosts and prosecutes those who plunder the fiscus.

Until the existing corruption-fighting institutions, namely the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), are running on full capacity, adding another unit will be a waste of resources.

Sisulu and her colleagues in Cabinet cannot confidently say that the Hawks have filled the void in corruption-fighting left by the closure of the Scorpions.

The unit does not have a distinct anti-corruption mandate and is still involved in a legal battle with businessman Hugh Glenister about its independence.

Both the NPA and SIU have been without heads for more than a year.

The NPA is struggling to successfully prosecute complex commercial crimes, and its failed disciplinary action against senior anti-corruption prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach has damaged the institution’s image.

For a body that is supposed to prosecute without fear or favour, the NPA is spending an inordinate amount of time and money on fighting one of its own.

The SIU has lost a number of key government departments as clients.

The departure of senior staff, including unit head Willie Hofmeyr and the long absence of deputy head Faiek Davids, has negatively affected morale and output at the unit.

These are the issues that must be fixed first before another unit is created.

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