Corruption fight 'needs coherence'
Johannesburg - The fight against corruption will only be won with more coherence in government, Asset Forfeiture Unit head Willie Hofmeyr said on Tuesday.
"If we are to deal with corruption effectively it is very important that the different parts and streams of government work more closely than... at the moment," he told the Institute of Internal Auditors SA public sector forum in Kempton Park.
"The difficulty... at the moment is that there is not a great coherence to what we do. There is not a single place where the accountability rests."
The government had begun dealing with this problem, said Hofmeyr.
Hofmeyr currently serves as deputy national director of public prosecutions for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
He said the government had set a target of convicting 100 people, with illicit assets exceeding R5m, by 2014. The establishment of the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) in the justice cluster was important in helping to achieve this.
"ACTT has already progressed with speed. It has initiated 56 investigations. Twenty-six [of them] are already in court... 21 had their assets frozen."
Hofmeyr said nearly half-a-billion rand had been seized and that the amount could increase to R1bn in the "foreseeable future." Public perception was that corruption had increased over the last five years, but that was not true.
"What we have succeeded in is building capacity. The number of people investigating full-time has increased dramatically. This is why we see a lot more [stories about] corruption in the newspapers."
Hofmeyr said the government's target proved it was "serious" about fighting corruption.
"It is not about bringing 100 people to court, it is about ensuring convictions. This [requires] a lot more resources than previously."
He said various anti-corruption groups including the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit and the NPA, were debating different measures that could be used to prevent corruption, including issuing civil penalties.
"With the criminal justice system, you need to prove [a case] beyond a reasonable doubt and that is a high benchmark. If a contractor is found guilty, quadruple the amount of the tender in question could then be paid [as a civil penalty]. That means that there would be a R2bn penalty for a R500m tender."
One of the other proposals was to introduce a conditional amnesty for someone involved in a corrupt deal.
"There are two parties in corruption. If one party came forward first it would qualify for amnesty. This could cause a lot of trust issues," he joked.
He said much more needed to be done by everyone to fight corruption.
"No one disputes that it is not an easy war, but it is a war that has to be won... there could be some casualties along the way."