Editorial: Jail all corrupt bosses

2017-07-30 07:38

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During the infancy stages of our democracy, our administration and security authorities seemed to send a clear message that corruption had no place in the new South Africa.

One of the first big corruption scandals, the arms deal, claimed its poster boy Tony Yengeni, who was jailed for fraud, after receiving a discount on a luxury SUV from one of the bidders for the contracts.

Back then we had a working, prosecutor-driven investigative team known as the Scorpions, who instilled fear in those who were engaged in or planned to commit nefarious acts.

The fear was palpable as it appeared that justice was being done. So, the country had a sense of hope.

Fast-forward to 2017. The emergence of the Gupta leaks has shown how one family has been using state-owned entities as its own personal fiefdom to draw out cash whenever it feels like. The rot at power utility Eskom exemplifies this by showing how officials meant to serve the public abused their positions to benefit themselves, the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

Eskom bosses paid the Guptas R600m in advance and even offered bank guarantees to the family’s company, Tegeta, to acquire Optimum Coal, after its owners were put under pressure to sell.

Anoj Singh, Eskom’s financial head, is the latest executive to be placed on special leave by the public utility over his involvement in controversial deals with the Guptas. Its suspended acting chief executive, Matshela Koko, faces possible charges for his alleged involvement in awarding Eskom contracts which saw his stepdaughter’s company benefit.

And former chief executive Brian Molefe is taking legal action against Eskom after a R30 million settlement he was offered by the company was blocked.

Now a Treasury investigation, as reported in the paper today, suggests that a probe be conducted to find out if any of the Eskom executives received payment from the Guptas for Tegeta coal deals and to find out who accepted paid trips to Dubai by the controversial family. The report – which was updated following the Gupta leaks – says Singh must be probed for facilitating the appointments of suppliers in a locomotive deal during his time at Transnet.

The calls to probe these officials, as well as the parliamentary committee investigation into Eskom and many other probes that are under way, are all welcome. It is time the Hawks, the police, the SIU and other law enforcement agencies acted. Huge crimes have been committed. Arrests are overdue. Only then will would-be criminals refuse to enter into corrupt deals.

Read more on:    crime  |  corruption

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