“Most of these accounts relate to allegations of maladministration (18%), followed by procurement corruption and abuse of authority (16% each). Other reports focus on fraud (14%), misappropriation of resources (12%), and dereliction of duty (8%), all of which featured prominently throughout the Covid-19 period and its various stages of lockdown.”
The breakdown of corruption reports by institution reveals the majority identify corruption or misconduct in the public sector (67%) – of these, 28% point to national government level, 24% to local government, 8% to provincial government and 3% to state-owned entities, among others.
A significant 33% allege corruption in the private sector.
However, it was the policing sector that raised the most concern.
Reports of corruption in the South African Police Service (Saps) ranged from abuse of authority such as the use of state resources to exert pressure on or use of violence against civilians to dereliction of duty, where police personnel failed to act upon complaints against their own.
Also prominent were bribery and extortion solicited from the public, particularly when people sought the protection of the police, or were falsely accused of being in the wrong.
The top types of corruption in the policing sector were cited as abuse of authority (40%), dereliction of duty (35%) and bribery or extortion (26%).
The report also focused on the long journey of over 36,200 whistle-blowers in the fight against corruption in South Africa.
Corruption Watch said the past decade reveals a volatile experience for the brave whistle-blowers who have not been deterred by intimidation, stringent lockdown conditions, or threats to their livelihoods and sometimes even their lives.
“As recently as 2021, the shocking news of the brutal assassination of Gauteng health department whistle-blower Babita Deokaran signalled a treacherous environment for whistle-blowers.
And yet, CW witnessed the ongoing willingness of people to share their stories and experiences of corruption and expose it at all levels of society.”
“This speaks to their commitment to be part of the solution, and to hold those responsible to account, in spite of the risks,” Corruption Watch said.
Corruption Watch said the most prevalent types of corruption reported in schools, one of its longest-running areas of focus, were abuse of authority at 24%, followed by misappropriation of resources (20%).
“It is worth noting the flouting of recruitment and procurement processes, primarily by principals working in tandem with a school governing body member, at 18% and 17% respectively.
“Other cases involved allegations of school officials hiring friends and relatives, as well as the alarming prevalence of sextortion of employees required to perform sexual favours in order to keep their jobs.”
Corruption Watch said reports related to Covid-19 continued to be a worrying feature in 2021, spanning a number of key sectors and involving either underperformance or willful wrongdoing.
“The statistics also showed sometimes blatant disregard of procurement processes, an example being the awarding of lucrative PPE contracts to companies with ties to top officials.
“The complaints also highlighted allegations of police soliciting bribes from informal businesses, illegal tavern operators, and others contravening the law when regulations such as the curfew were mandatory.”
It said the types of Covid-19 corruption included maladministration (34%), procurement corruption (21%), abuse of authority (18%) and bribery or extortion (15%).
Corruption Watch said the health sector remained a point of focus in 2021 through targeted interventions via representation on the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum, as well as work in monitoring procurement and engaging with procurement reform through the Open Contracting for Health and Procurement Watch projects.
Corruption Watch Vision
Karam Singh, executive director of CW said the organisation sees itself as an activist organisation that carries the public trust, a role it is privileged to perform in the interests of the country.”
“We pledge to continue our work in applying pressure on decision-makers, top officials and leaders in the public and private sectors, and to honour our commitment, made all those years ago in 2012, to work towards the creation of a corruption-free South Africa.
“An essential part of this work is to ensure adequate protection and support for whistle-blowers, without whom we would not exist.”
Corruption Watch said the conditions during 2021 were largely defined by the fluctuating effects of Covid-19, the state of disaster regulations restricting movement, the various waves of the pandemic impacting people’s lives, and the new ways required to engage with communities in the country.
Singh said over the past 10 years, Corruption Watch has journeyed with its more than 36,200 whistle-blowers in experiencing the ups and downs of the political and socio-economic landscape of South Africa, battered by state capture, beset by leadership challenges, and devastated by increasing levels of unemployment and the appalling rise in inequality and poverty.
“The strong foundations established in 2012 have enabled the organisation to remain firm and steadfast in its mission and to continue to focus on restoring rights and justice to the people who suffer most from the impact of corruption.”
Singh said their vision of a country finally emerging from the grip of corruption remains as relevant as ever, and they will continue to forge ahead to make that vision a reality.