Ramaphosa: Arrest govt officials 'with their hands in our cookie jar'

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Elmond Jiyane)
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Elmond Jiyane)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the arrest of local government officials who "put personal greed ahead of the interest of our people".

He was addressing the South African Local Government Association's (Salga) national members assembly, currently taking place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Ramaphosa said officials involved in corruption should be arrested like those who were recently arrested in KZN for their alleged involvement in political killings. 

"This is encouraging. The same should be done to people who have put personal greed ahead of the interest of our people. We must deal with them so that they must become afraid to be arrested themselves. They must know that if they do wrong things, they will be dealt with like we are dealing with the killers here in the province," said Ramaphosa.

READ: FACT CHECKED: DA claims over Bosasa/Ramaphosa contract denial misleading

The president also said perpetrators of political killings were afraid, "that's why the killings have come down.

"With the arrests that have been taking place, they are now afraid to continue with their dastardly act. They now see that they are being made to account. They now see that something is going to happen against them. Even those who wanted to perpetrate these acts are now afraid to be arrested," he said.

Ramaphosa told delegates that communities did not want to see government officials "with their hands in our cookie jar".

"They don't want to see us misusing and wasting their resources. They want to see us serving them with integrity, with dignity and without any form of corruption whatsoever."

'Protect against disasters'

The president acknowledged that people who lived in informal settlements were subjected to "pain and anguish" whenever there were disasters caused by fire and floods.

He said Salga needed to come up with innovative ideas on how to be more prepared "so that the suffering that our people are subjected to, wherever there are floods and fires, does not really descend on them".

"Or take out insurance. There are forever insurers who are prepared to insure a particular disaster or event. This is something that can be looked at so that whenever such disasters happen, like it did happen recently in Alexandra in Gauteng. Our local government or whatever facility that could be set up acts immediately," he advised.

KZN premier Willies Mchunu also sang Ramaphosa's praises for the recent arrests in connection with political killings in the province.

'Consequences for perpetrators'

Mchunu said the Moerane Commission into the killings found that most of them took place at local government level, where people were grappling for power to control the municipalities' finances.

Mchunu said there were no killings ahead of the upcoming national elections and warned that the government should be wary of the next local government elections because that's where politically-motivated killings normally happen.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize also said there was a lull in political killings since the inter-ministerial committee Ramaphosa established went to KZN.

There have been 40 deaths in the past six years, Mkhize said.

"The arrests have made it clear that there should be consequences for those who perpetrate such crime," he said.

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