‘Punish corrupt public servants’

2011-04-20 14:16

Corrupt government officials often received lenient punishments, and usually after being suspended on full pay for long periods, the Public Service Commission (PSC) said today.

A total of 7 766 corruption cases had been reported to the national anti-corruption hotline between September 2005, when it was launched, and June 2010 - said the PSC in a report entitled “Profiling and Analysis of the Most Common Manifestations of Corruption and its Related Risks in the Public Service”.

“The PSC found that departments take more than 60 days to finalise disciplinary enquiries even in minor offences. This is too costly for government as the officials are being suspended from duty with full pay,” read a PSC press release on the report.

According to law, a disciplinary process should not take longer than 60 days.

“Departments are often lenient in imposing disciplinary sanctions against officials found guilty of fraud and corruption. It is common to find written or final written warning to officials found guilty of fraud and corruption,” said the PSC.

It found the most common forms of corruption were fraud and bribery ( 511 cases), mismanagement of government funds (870), procurement irregularities (720) and appointment irregularities (627).

The PSC said the government needed to improve its prevention, detection and investigation of corruption cases.

“The PSC found that the areas of utmost concern to departments are those where officials can use their discretion to decide whether or not to investigate cases of alleged corruption. In this regard, the officials tend to request the closure of cases even before these have been investigated.

“This has resulted in queries from whistleblowers who are concerned about cases of alleged corruption not being investigated and the necessary feedback not being provided,” said the PSC.

It also found that only 40% of departments it investigated had anti-corruption policies in place with evidence that it was being implemented.
“The remaining 60% either have no policies or have very basic policies of poor quality.”

It recommended that departments also report all fraud and corruption cases to the police for criminal action to be taken against perpetrators.

Also, provinces needed to establish centralised anti-corruption investigative units.

“The investigative capacities in the local sphere of government, which is currently fragmented, need co-ordination and integration. The PSC is of the view that more attention should be devoted to the prevention of corruption and to identifying and eliminating systematic regulative and organisational gaps that create corruption-prone environment.”

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