Pretoria – The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has vowed to maintain the momentum in pursuing wrongdoers in the local government sphere and recovering public money siphoned through corruption.
The undertaking was made by the head of the unit, Advocate Andy Mothibi, in Pretoria on Tuesday while making remarks at the launch of the Local Government Anti-Corruption Forum (LGACF) and the local government ethical leadership initiative.
Stakeholders that form part of the forum include representives from the government (including law enforcement agencies), the business sector and civil society.
In the main, the forum seeks to root out corruption in the local government sphere where it is believed that looting of public funds is rife.
Mothibi said the fight against corruption was an urgent one. He revealed that they were currently investigating several municipalities.
He suggested that one of the ways to stop the rot in the local government sphere was by having real-time audits by the Auditor General (AG) so that all acts of corruption could be picked up and investigated.
“We really pledge that we will continue and sustain the momentum (in dealing with corruption in municipalities),” Mothibi said.
Speaking at the same forum, Lt-General Godfrey Lebeya, the head of the Hawks, said their intervention to fight corruption in local municipalities was through the National Clean Audit Task Team.
He said as a result of this work, they had been able to nab several officials and politicians suspected of corruption in municipalities like eThekwini and Newcastle in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
“There are 291 matters that have been prioritised for investigation. Out of these, 75 of these are already on the court roll while 29 are being considered by prosecuting authorities to determine whether prosecution needs to be instituted or otherwise.
“187 of these matters are still under investigation. As I have indicated, part of ACTT (Anti-Corruption Task Team) is to focus investigation of the municipalities.
“There are currently 452 cases which affect the municipalities; of these 122 are already on the court roll.
“It just needs to be noted that when I say 122 cases, I don’t mean 122 individuals. You find that in one case there are actually more than 10 individuals.
“We may have cited other examples where there are 22… there are 252 matters that are at the investigation level,” Lebeya said, citing eThekwini and Newcastle where 56 people were arrested in 11 cases.
The National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi, decried the endemic corruption in the local government sphere, saying the country was now beset by sporadic service delivery protests because of the scourge.
“Ladies and gentlemen, how regularly do we have service delivery protests? And why are the people of this country dissatisfied? All of us are aware of it… the intelligence shows us that… I think it is about 90% of the public protests relate to service delivery.
“What we don’t understand is that we would all be taking to the streets if we didn’t have water and sanitation. That is what corruption has done in this country.
“The challenge is that the inability to deal with service delivery lands up on law enforcement.