Friday, April 22, 2011

South Africa - Fighting Corruption


Pretoria - South Africa lacks a coherent and comprehensive approach to fighting corruption, former National Prosecuting Authority boss Vusi Pikoli said on Thursday.

Speaking at a seminar at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, he said that according to the latest figures he was aware of, less than 15% of allegations of corruption were being investigated.

Pikoli, who is now involved with the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac), said the recent majority judgment of the Constitutional Court proved that there was no dispute over the need for an independent agency to fight crime.

The question was rather one about the level of independence such an agency would have.
On March 17, the Constitutional Court ruled that current legislation left the Hawks unit vulnerable to political interference.

Pikoli said that the record of the Scorpions - which was disbanded in January 2009 - spoke for itself.

"We need to have a dedicated independent agency."

He said there were at least eight government institutions to investigate corruption as a part of their mandates.

The "overlapping mandates" proved that there was no clear strategy to fight corruption.

"They do not have as a primary mandate the investigation of corruption. This reflects the absence of a coherent and comprehensive approach to the fight against corruption."

Pikoli said it was "no surprise" that South Africa was "falling down the ladder" on indices monitoring corruption.

He recommended there be a statutory body to monitor what became of investigations into corruption by such a corruption fighting agency.

Without such monitoring investigations could lapse.

"We know what happened to the arms deal investigation. It fizzled out."

Change in tactics

He advocated that parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) have "more teeth".

He lamented the fact that there was no institution that dealt with education in the fight against corruption.

"Despite these (eight) institutions that we have, none of them actually has got a mandate to deal with the issues of education on corruption."

The problem with any corruption investigation was that it would "attain a high level of political attention" and possible political interference.

The fight against corruption needed to go beyond making political statements.

Referring to the recent protests in Ficksburg where protester Andries Tatane was beaten and shot last week, Pikoli said: "Andries Tatane's right to dignity was clearly violated."

Casac had lodged a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

"He paid the ulitimate price for his rights. We failed Andries."

It was "quite astonishing that given this time in our history that we are still witnessing police brutality as in the apartheid time".

Pikoli said police would have to change their tactics in dealing with crowd control.
Eight policemen have been charged in connection with Tatane's death.