Institute calls for corruption unit

2012-05-15 19:49
Johannesburg - A new, dedicated corruption-busting unit should be set up to bolster the work of the Hawks, the Institute of Accountability said on Tuesday.

"South Africans need to recognise and exercise their right to insist on an independent corruption fighting unit," the institute's director, Paul Hoffman, told the Cape Town Press Club.

The country deserved to have a best-practice solution to the systemic and endemic challenges posed by corruption.

South Africa lost an estimated R675bn to corruption every year - two thirds of the national budget.

Essential for success

A dedicated corruption unit - dubbed by Hoffman as the "Eagles" - should embody five traits essential for success.

He said these were specialisation, training, independence, sufficient resources, and security of tenure for staff.

In a Constitutional Court ruling last year, the law that created the Hawks was declared inconsistent with the Constitution, as it failed to secure an adequate degree of independence for the unit.

The SAPS amendment bill in its current form fell short in several key areas, Hoffman argued.

He recommended the establishment of the Eagles to Parliament last month during public hearings on the matter.

Independence

All but one submission was critical of the unit's ability to operate independently while housed inside the police structures.

"Ultimately answerable to the minister of police - a political appointee - the freedom of the Hawks to commence, proceed with and terminate investigations without fear, favour or prejudice is under threat," said Hoffman.

"Hawks are small, scarce and susceptible to poisoning. Eagles can see further, fly higher and go after bigger prey than Hawks."

The unit's broad mandate to investigate priority crime diluted their ability to effectively target corruption, he said.

Parliament must amend the law to satisfy the court judgment by 18 September.

Businessman Hugh Glenister has offered R300 000 to southern Africans who submit the best practice solution for this judgment's implementation.

"For democracy to function effectively, we need an active citizenry that holds its decision-makers to account. It is the intention of this competition to engage ordinary citizens in an issue that will define South Africa's future," Glenister said.

The Glenister Challenge is open to entrants in three categories: submissions can be made by individuals below 35 years, university teams, or individuals older than 35 years.

Read more on:    hawks  |  corruption
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