Covid-19 has proven that corruption knows no boundaries - Ronald Lamola

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Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
  • Justice Minister Ronald Lamola opened the Special Investigating Unit officers in the Northern Cape.  
  • He urged members of the community to use the offices and report all allegations of corruption.
  • Lamola said the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that corruption knows no boundaries.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola says the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a "painful illustration" that corruption knows no boundaries.

Lamola was speaking at the launch of the Special Investigating Unit's offices in the Northern Cape on Thursday.

"Driven by greed, certain individuals in government and the private sector colluded at the expense of you and me," the minister said.

"In some instances, we have seen increases of more than 300 percent for some goods and personal protective equipment." 

Lamola said some of the taxpayers' money was meant to fight the virus that causes Covid-19, but was lost to corruption. 

He added that the impact of corruption had been felt across all spheres of government. 

He added: 

We condemned, in strongest possible terms, the looting of resources meant to preserve the lives of our people.

"In this regard, the SIU has been seized with investigations across the country, and the wheels of justice are grinding. Those who looted our resources are called to account, through the SIU, accounts have been frozen, payments stopped, and government officials and some leaders were suspended."

Lamola commended the work of the investigating unit for "protecting public funds from corrupt elements within society and [in the] public service".

The minister also said that the unit's work came with positive developments in the fight against corruption.

The Special Tribunal's establishment enhanced the unit's ability to recoup embezzled funds from the state, he said. 

Other developments include:

- The SIU made its biggest recovery to date against ABB South Africa, amounting to R1. 5 billion.

- Law enforcement agencies coordinating their work through the Fusion Centre, have handled 231 cases or incidents related to Covid-19.

- Thirty cases were closed after investigations and 31 accused are appearing in courts in 14 criminal cases across the country.

- More than 12 referrals were sent to various departments for disciplinary action for employees involved in irregularities.

"Furthermore, R145.6m in 72 bank accounts have been blocked by the Financial Intelligence Centre and R119m has been preserved by the Asset Forfeiture Unit through the Prevention of Organisation Crime Act."

Lamola said the investigating unit has, to date, enrolled cases before the Special Tribunal to the value of R365 million. 

It has saved R124 million involved in supply chain irregularities, he said. 

"The South African Revenue Service recovered R165m in taxes".

Lamola said the work ahead remained "incredibly difficult" but said the SIU should spare no effort in bringing perpetrators to book.  

He added: 

We are encouraged that the SIU has shown to have teeth; they have demonstrated, through various actions, that where public funds are spent against intended purposes or without adhering to prescripts, they will not hesitate to crack the whip.

Lamola urged members of the community to use the SIU's offices and report all allegations of corruption.

He added: 

Leaders preoccupied with [the] pursuit of self-enrichment at the expense of service delivery must have shivers down their spines with the opening of these offices. They must know that they will face the full might of the law.

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