Pityana: Corruption probes create pattern
Johannesburg - The reported
probes of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, and Special Investigating Unit
(SIU) boss Willie Hofmeyr are part of a pattern and create a "worrying
picture" about police conduct.
"This is a very, very
disconcerting development," chairperson of the Council for the Advancement of
the Constitution, Sipho Pityana, said in an interview at his Parktown,
Johannesburg office, this week.
"You see, you can't
but look at what has been happening and remember the police when there was a
case against Jackie Selebi. They went and arrested Gerrie Nel, and what happened
to those charges? They were trumped up."
Nel, head of the
now-defunct crime-fighting unit Scorpions, was arrested in 2008. He was the
prosecutor heading the probe against corrupt former national police
"By the way, that was
during [former president Thabo] Mbeki's time. And now this thing is with us.
"Then they took action
against [Vusi] Pikoli because he was taking action against Selebi, and he was
taking action against the president of the ANC [Jacob Zuma].
"Now you have what
seems to me, a pattern."
Pikoli, former National
Prosecuting Authority head, was suspended, then sacked in a protracted battle
with the state.
No action taken
The raid on the Public
Protector's offices earlier this year, by two crime intelligence officers,
should have sent a warning that all was not well. Police bosses denied
knowledge of the raid.
"There is no full
report to the public. The matter is not referred to an independent body, the
ICD [Independent Complaints Directorate].
"And then you have
these officers return to work. No punitive action is taken against them for
conducting themselves in a manner that amounts to an attack on a body that has
been established for the protection of the Constitution.
"Nobody asks questions
about that, not the president, not parliament, nobody asks questions about why
it is that those people were not taken to task, disciplined and punished.
"Why were we surprised
when now there is an investigation?" asked Pityana.
Madonsela's offices were
raided shortly after she released a report that found the (South African Poli
SAPS's lease of a Pretoria building for R500m was unlawful.
Shortly before she was
about to release her findings into the police's suspect rental contracts with
businessman Roux Shabangu, The Star reported that her arrest on fraud and
corruption charges was imminent.
This was followed by
denials of any probe into the protector, and by a report that Hofmeyr was
facing investigation for allegedly flouting procurement procedures in his
The SIU is involved in
several serious investigations, among them a probe into police procurement
procedures for new office space.
In March, Hofmeyr told MPs
the unit was probing 16 departments and public entities for fraud, graft and
"It's too much of a
coincidence. It creates a very worrying picture of the conduct of the police.
It creates a very disturbing picture about the readiness of the leadership of
government to rein in the police, to respect institutions established to deal
with graft," Pityana said.
It seemed, he added, that
anybody who investigated corruption had to accept that they themselves would
eventually be investigated.
The police's conduct was
"questionable" and it was hard to believe they had bona fide
"In the eyes of
ordinary South Africans, it creates an impression that if you touch certain
people in society when it comes to corruption, you must be prepared to pay the
consequences. That is not acceptable, that is an affront to a constitutional
Not an 'exaggeration'
"It is not an
exaggeration. The spokesperson of the president says people must stop
exaggerating, but if it was just an isolated incident, maybe you could overlook
it. But when you look at it in the context of the pattern of behaviour, then it
is very, very worrying... it's not enough to say that we have got assurances
that this is not what is being done.
"We need people to be
made responsible for their actions. They must account for their actions. We
want to see government take action against these people, because it is obvious
that there is something going on there."
Pityana said South Africa
was on a "dangerous road" if state institutions were being used to
fight personal vendettas or political battles.
State institutions were not
"fiefdoms". He was surprised Parliament had not summoned Police
Minister Nathi Mthethwa and police commissioner Bheki Cele to attempt to
"understand" the probes into Madonsela and Hofmeyr.
"Why are the Hawks
investigating the SIU? Why do you have the Hawks being investigated by police
intelligence? It creates a very, very chaotic and dangerous situation when the
security structures get pitted one against the other. They should be working
"Once you go down the
route of abuse of state institutions to settle political scores, or to settle
differences with people you don't agree with, you don't like, we are in for a
very dangerous ride. And it is an affront to the Constitution because these
institutions are supposed to be at the service of everyone."
However, he said he could
not imagine that state institutions were being used in the ANC's succession
battle ahead of its elective conference next year.
"If you look at ANC
policies adopted at the last conference, they are unambiguously strong against
The ANC's Polokwane
resolutions took a hard stance on graft, which was why the Congress of SA Trade
Unions, an ANC ally, was pushing to have them implemented.
But very little has been
done by the ANC in government to breathe life into these resolutions -- which
include regulating party political funding and investment companies linked to
Pityana said while
corruption was a big problem in South Africa, the trend was not irreversible.
"There is sufficient
political goodwill to reverse the trends, but we need to act and act
Pityana was hopeful
Parliament would draw up legislation to institute such a body.