Infrastructure fraud concerns MEC

2016-11-16 06:00

Infrastructure-related projects are reportedly most prone to fraud and corruption in the Free State, shining a light on loopholes in South African law’s ability to curb this type of crime.

Existence of the rot in this sector was brought to light again by the Free State MEC for finance, Elzabe Rockman, speaking at the launch of the International Fraud Awareness Week on Tuesday, 8 November, at Oliewenhuis in Bloemfontein.

She says the highest numbers of fraud and corruption cases were lodged in this sector.

According to Rockman, South Africa – with Italy, Lesotho, Montenegro and Senegal – rank 61 out of 168 countries prone to corruption of territories that participated in the Corruption Perception Index.

“The individual scores obtained by South Africa over the last four years suggest that we still face immense challenges,” says Rockman.

The theme for this year is “Curb Fraud and Accelerate Economic Transformation”. The week-long campaign encourages employees, in the private and public sector, to proactively take action to minimise the impact of fraud in their environments.

Rudolph Laubscher, central regional chairperson of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners South African Chapter (ACFE), says fraud within the public sector has a devastating impact, because it affects service delivery and loss of public revenue.

Out of 18 000 cases of fraud and corruption reported with the National Anti-Corruption Hotline since 2004, only 345 cases are Free State rela-ted, says the Free State public service commissioner Henk Boshoff.

He says off the 345 cases reported, only 34 are pending. Boshoff says most of the cases reported range from mismanagement of funds, irregular appointments and soliciting of bribes by public officials.

The commissioner said all state officials in the province have disclosed their financial interests.

“Officials found in conflict of inte-rest will be prosecuted,” Boshof says.

Citing several cases probed by her department, Rockman says the supply chain management of the Free State Department of Education was being probed over discrepancies around learner-teacher support material and infrastructure.

The department has recently concluded an investigation concerning an official of treasury doing business with one of the local municipalities without approval.

“I do not think we will ever be able to create an entire fraud and corruption-free environment,” Rockman said, referring to the culture of bribes at traffic stations. She said traffic stations rotate officials more regularly in an attempt to curb bribery.

“It is difficult to prove bribe allegations, particularly in cash environments,” says Rockman.

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