The provinces and municipalities in South Africa where corruption is most reported: study

Civil society group Corruption Watch has released its latest corruption trends report for 2018.

The report focuses on the incidents of corruption which were reported to Corruption Watch over the first six months of 2018 – and as such does not represent all incidents of corruption in the country.

During the period from 1 January to 30 June 2018, 2,469 cases of corruption were lodged with the organisation, highlighting six areas of concern, namely:

  • Schools;
  • Municipalities;
  • The South African Police Service (SAPS);
  • Licensing centres;
  • State-owned entities;
  • The health sector.

Individual reports speak of corruption in municipalities, most notably discrepancies in employment processes, in the context of massive unemployment in the country, and procurement irregularities that benefit companies and individuals at the expense of more competent service providers, Corruption Watch said.

Geographical breakdown

According to the report, the most common forms of corruption are bribery, irregularities in procurement, and the embezzlement of funds and theft of resources.

Bribery accounted for 23% of cases – a decrease of approximately 6.5% compared to 2017, while embezzlement and theft of resources also declined to 11.3% in 2018. In comparison, irregularities in procurement increased by 4.2% to 16.9% of all cases.

Since 2017, not much has shifted in the geographic breakdown of reports of corruption, as once again Gauteng remains at the top of the table with 39.8% of the total number of reports, a fact that reflects Corruption Watch’s profile in the province and its population figures, it said.

KwaZulu-Natal comes in at 9.6% of total reports, followed by the Eastern Cape and Western Cape jointly representing 6.5% of the total corruption reports.

“The highlighted areas in this report demonstrate the need for continuing vigilance over our public institutions, and for the public to expose corruption in all its shapes and forms,” said Corruption Watch.

“CW commends its whistle-blowers who have been brave enough to take action against corruption, and it urges all people living in South Africa to commit themselves to creating an environment that is intolerant of corruption.”


According to Corruption Watch, there has been a 1.4% increase in the number of cases of corruption in schools related to embezzlement of funds and theft of resources, which amount to 35.5% of schools reports.

This shows a continuing trend of people willing to use schools as their opportunity to steal or misappropriate funds, thereby robbing the country’s learners of their right to decent school facilities, services, and protection, it said.

This trend extends to the SAPS, as corruption erodes the ability of the police service to protect the public and instil confidence in their performance, said David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch.

This year’s statistics include corruption cases featuring sextortion (3.1%), in which teachers and principals are implicated in soliciting sexual favours from learners in exchange for marks, an extremely disturbing trend.

“While the headlines and the national debate are focused on the stories of grand corruption, spare a thought for the child whose school lunch is stolen, for the impoverished hospital patient who is forced to pay for care at a public hospital, for the community terrorised by gangsters and drug dealers who have bribed the local police and local councillors to look the other way,” said Lewis.

State-owned enterprises

The extent of corruption at South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is also reflected in the increased number of corruption-related cases received during this period – of the 3.1% corruption reports, 44% indicate irregularities in procurement in SOEs.

The evidence suggests that the procurement officers who do not follow due process in the appointment of contractors are also not held to account for their transgressions.

Linked to the contravention of procurement processes are the 20.3% of cases indicating bribery by companies in order to secure lucrative contracts.


Read: Corruption, poorly-run SOEs and 4 other major obstacles holdings SA back

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The provinces and municipalities in South Africa where corruption is most reported: study