MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Peter Allwright
Comments: 13
Article views: 1557
Latest Badges:

View all Peter Allwright's badges.

The real state of the nation: ethical and moral degeneration

20 January 2014, 09:52


Financial misconduct in the public service cost tax payers R932 million in 2010/2011, 99% which was not recovered! The most startling revelation is that financial misconduct grew from R100 million in 2008/2009 by 346% to R346 million in 2009/2010 and then soared another 269% to R932 million in 2010/2011!

The findings confirm the widespread belief that financial misconduct has become an established practice within the public service and that dedicated mechanisms and law enforcement entities established to combat white-collar crime have largely been unsuccessful.

Overview on Financial Misconduct for 2010/2011

The Public Service Commission publishes annual findings on the extent of financial misconduct in the public service. The report titled “Overview on Financial Misconduct for the 2010/2011 Financial Year” was published this morning and reveals staggering statistics.

The report provides a partial insight into the ethical and moral regeneration of the public service because only finalised cases of financial misconduct cases were reported by national and provincial departments. Most concerning is that 12 departments issued a “nil” return” because no financial misconduct cases were finalised during the financial year. We therefore don’t know how many incidents of financial misconduct actually took place in national and provincial departments. The more important concern is that we are only seeing part of the problem. The Public Service Commission believes that the reported cases of financial misconduct are underreported becaue national and provincial departments are failing to report incidents of financial misconduct . So the real extent of the problem is really unknown and most probably much worse than anyone can imagine! So what do we know?

1,035 incidents of financial misconduct were finalised during the financial period. The most common types of financial misconduct were fraud (40%), theft (15%), misappropriation and abuse (12%) and gross negligence (10%). An assessment of the incidents has shown a dramatic drop in fraud, down from 53%, to simpler crimes such as theft. The shift to theft may indicate that its become easier to steal assets from the public service than to form syndicates to defraud and corrupt the public service. A continuing concern is the low level of corruption reported in the public service. Incidents of corruption have remained in single digits with the current 3% masking the real extent of corrupt practices.

Its commonly acknowledged that corruption is rampant in the public sector: the problem is that most law enforcement officials shy away from corruption because its harder to prove than theft. My experience has shown that most law enforcement officials try to “convert” a corrupt offence to a “theft” offence because they don’t comprehend the key elements of corruption and find the simple “take and run” concept of theft simpler to comprehend, investigate and prosecute.

Worst performing national department

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development continues to report the highest incidents of financial misconduct for a national department. Over the last 3 years (2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011) the department has reported 46%, 33% and 25% of incidents of financial misconduct. The declining growth in incidents of financial misconduct may be masked by lower levels of reporting, longer periods of suspensions or a slowing in the finalisation of disciplinary hearings.

Worst performing provincial department

Similarly, Kwazulu-Natal continues to rpeort the highest incidents of financal misconduct for a provincial department. Over the last 3 years (2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011) the department has reported 27%, 31% and 33% of incidents of financial misconduct. The increasing growth in incidents of financial misconduct appears to indicate that there is a slow decline in ethical and morale fibre of the officials.

Simplication of offences

There is a substantial growth in incidents in financial misconduct from officials that form the rank-and-file of the public service. Officials in salary levels 1 to 8 has grown from 54% in 2008/2009 to 61% in 2009/2010 to 81% in 2010/2011. The growth in financial misconduct correlates somewhat to the simplication of financial misconduct to theft, misappropriation and abuse and gross negligence (gross negligence has doubled over the most recent 2 year-period: 2009/2010 and 2010/2011).

No consequences

The most troublesome finding is that there appeared to be no meaningful consequence to financial misconduct. Although 84% of officials were found guilty of misconduct in the cases, the most common sanction for financial misconduct was a final written warning (35%). Only 23% of officials found guilty of financial misconduct were discharged from the public service! The situation is exacerbated by officials spending extended periods of time on suspension with little progress made to investigate and discipline officials.


58% of officials serve suspensions greater than 91 days, whilst 16% serve suspensions between 61 and 90 days, and 26% serve suspensions less than 60 days. The majority of officials in public service have notice periods of one calendar month which means that a considerable amount of time and money is spent on precautionary suspensions which are often wasted and lost to the public service when the officials resign without facing disciplinary sanctioning or resign during disciplinary hearings before sanctioning is announced.

Once the officials have served out their notice periods, the public service usually abandons disciplinary, criminal and civil proceedings allowing implicated officials to move to other institutions to commit financial misconduct. The situation often results in corrupt officials moving to other institutions thereby avoiding sanctioning and finding a new hunting ground for unlawful behaviour

The majority of perpetrators remain in their positions and often continue to commit financial misconduct. The losses from the finalized cases of financial misconduct has mushroomed with similar worrying statistics being recorded year-on-year.

Dedicated entities and mechanisms

The problem has become so severe that Government has established dedicated entities and mechanisms to combat widespread commercial crime in the public service. Unfortunately, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), the Multi-Agency Working Group and the Public Service Anti-Corruption Unit are fighting a losing battle to stop financial misconduct in the public service. The Code of Conduct, Financial Disclosures Framework and anti-corruption strategies, forums, databases have had minimal impact on financial misconduct. The establishment of anti-corruption hotlines to report financial misconduct in the public service have largely been unsuccessful. Forensic investigations have found that significant numbers of officials are unaware of these anticorruption mechanisms, and this low level of awareness exacerbates a very problematic situation.

Solving the current impasse of financial misconduct

The public service should implement a multi-pronged strategy that combats financial misconduct across the public sector. The strategy should incorporate the following components:

  • The commitment of leadership to combat financial misconduct;
  • Strict enforcement of the legislative framework;
  • Define a common and consistent definition of financial misconduct across the public service;
  • Strengthening risk management practices and procedures;
  • Implementation of fraud prevention and fraud response plans;
  • Appoint independent experts to conduct serious financial misconduct investigations so that the periods of the precautionary suspensions and investigations can be substantially shortened;
  • Improving the investigative capacity of the public service;
  • Issue guidelines to ensure the consistent management of disciplinary hearings and sanctions;
  • Institution of criminal and civil proceedings against officials found guilty of financial misconduct;
  • Blacklisting of officials found guilty of financial misconduct within the public service;
  • Active recovery of unauthorised, irregular, fruitless or wasteful expenditure; and
  • Implementation of monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

The road ahead

The public service is facing a daunting mission to overcome financial misconduct. The leadership of the public service needs to set the appropriate ethical tone from the top stating that unlawful behaviour of financial misconduct is unacceptable. The tone needs to be supported by a statement of commitment to combat financial misconduct across national and provincial departments. The multi-pronged strategy needs to be implemented and constantly measured to ensure its achieving the desired aims and objectives. This is a fight worth winning.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Maria Joubert Muller
Fingerprint biometrics at the ATM

People from different walks of life have voiced both positive and negative aspects of the technology, and many biometrics experts have argued both sides of the coin. Read more...

2 comments 91 views
Submitted by
The Scribe
Fake Photoshopped Pictures Fuel U...

My plea today is to all those who share images on social platforms without thinking twice! Read more...

4 comments 1106 views
Submitted by
Guy Alain Lukoki
Your children are not heirs of yo...

Jacob was chosen by God and blessed by his father. He had divine visions and heard the voice of God when he was running from his brother’s wrath.  Read more...

8 comments 227 views
Submitted by
Eric Rimmer
Proof of Heaven & Hell

The answer was purportedly in response to the bonus question on a University of Arizona chemistry midterm: “Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?” Read more...

15 comments 971 views
Submitted by
Kurt Ellis
The Real Housewives of Nkandla - ...

Jacob Zuma stared at the page in front of him. His brow creased with concentration as a single bead of sweat meandered down his temple. Read more...

1 comments 429 views
Submitted by
Kyle Mark Langman
Take Responsibility - Thoughts fr...

Education no longer lies near the bottom of our expense list. It is fast becoming one of the priority expenses, as the costs have drastically risen over the years.  Read more...

7 comments 275 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Welcome on board the 24 hour sale on books!

Today only, buy 1 book and get 1 FREE on the top 100 books. Offer expires midnight 23 April. While stocks last. Shop now!

Get 50% off selected books!

Buy 2 books and get 50% off the second book. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25



E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2014 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.