Corruption Watch has published a new report showing a marked increase in corruption within the very institution charged with protecting the rights of all South Africans – the police service.
The report is taken from 1,591 whistle-blowers “who have exposed corruption in different sectors across the country”.
The 2019 Analysis of Corruption Trends Report, the third edition of this half-yearly publication, revealed that for the first time, corruption in the police sector has overtaken other sectors such as schools, health and local government.
The increase in corruption reports in both the police and health sectors are most likely the result of focused Corruption Watch campaigns in these areas that are intended to bring to light and address specific systemic corruption challenges, Corruption Watch, a non-profit organisation said.
For example, in the South African Police Service (SAPS), the leading forms of corruption are abuse of power and bribery, which stand at 35.7% and 30.6% respectively. The impact of the network of patronage within the SAPS frequently protects those engaged in corrupt activities, but makes more vulnerable those trying to expose corruption in this critical sector, it said.
“If we are to tackle corruption, and many other social ills like gender-based violence it is necessary that there be trust in the police,” said David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch. “But the police have to earn that trust. By providing a mechanism for accountability we are hoping to contribute to building trust between the communities and the police.”
The report showed that SAPS ‘corruption’ accounted for 9.2% of all reported corruption – up from 6.3% in 2018 – followed by schools at 8.4% (10.8% in 2018).
Municipal related corruption was down to 6.4%, from 9.2% in 2018; however, health centres climbed to 3.6%, from 2.7% in 2018.
Corruption at licensing centres was relatively unchanged at 3.4%. Collectively, these sectors accounted for a third of reports of corruption received between 1 January, and 30 June 2019.
Gauteng received the highest number of reports of corruption, followed by KwaZulu-Natal, with the Western Cape and Limpopo sharing third.
The City of Johannesburg accounted for 27.5% of reports, followed by City of Tshwane (9.3). eThekwini Metro Municipality and City of Ekurhuleni counted for 7.2% and 6.3% of reports, while the City of Cape Town counted for 4.3% of reports.
Turning to corruption in schools, the most common form of corruption relates to embezzlement of funds and theft of resources, which totals 30.6% of all reports in this sector, Corruption Watch said.
This is often at the hands of principals, school officials and school governing body members who deploy elaborate schemes to steal funds and divert resources that are intended to enhance learner education and environment. This constitutes a violation of human rights at the most fundamental level.
At the local government level, unsurprisingly the most corruption reports relate to procurement irregularities in municipalities, which take the form of rigged procurement processes, exclusion of bidders in favour of family and friends, and inflated prices, to name a few.
These reports make up 35.5% of reports in this sector.
Of equal concern is the worrying increase of reports of corruption in health facilities throughout the country, with the most prevalent form being employment irregularities followed by procurement irregularities, at 33.3% and 15.1% respectively, the report said.
“The reports indicate that employees of clinics and hospitals are at the centre of both forms of corruption, where there is little external influence or oversight. Those at the receiving end are patients who depend on access to vital health services, and are subsequently also denied their basic human rights.”