Public Protector backs UFS' call for public dialogue on public sector corruption

Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Thursday joined the University of Free State in its call for a public dialogue on public sector corruption.

Addressing a symposium hosted by the university in Bloemfontein, the Public Protector said it was important for society to have a common understanding and definition of corruption.

She decried society's apparent failure to draw a link between public sector corruption and poor public service delivery, urging those who witnessed wrongdoing in state affairs to report it to competent authorities.

"Do not turn a blind eye because the decision to look the other way might just come back to haunt you," she said. "There is no neutrality in corruption, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution."

The Public Protector explained that reporting corruption would present society with an opportunity to claw back resources bled by the state through unscrupulous business people and officials.

If corrupt dealings were reported each time they were witnessed, social delivery programmes such as RDP housing would be without poor workmanship that often forced government to invest more resources in clean-up operations following the damage done by contractors appointed and paid corruptly, she said.

This, the Public Protector added, would save the government millions of rand that are regularly spent on fixing defective houses.

She assured those that kept quiet for fear of reprisals that the law would protect them. Those that whistle-blew to her office or to the Auditor-General would be protected from suffering an occupational detriment while those that lifted the lid on cases that result in criminal prosecutions can be placed on witness protection.

The Public Protector, however, cautioned that focus should not only be on public sector corruption, saying the private sector needed to be scrutinized too.

Citing the construction and auction industries' collusion cases, she told delegates that society had a duty to ensure that the business sector, too, was free of corruption.

She commended the university for encouraging a public discourse on corruption, saying she hoped the initiative would be embraced by society, and in particular, sectors of society that were often at the receiving end of the consequences of corruption.

"We trust that public dialogue on this subject will rage-on unabated until the tide shifts significantly against the scourge of corruption," she concluded.

The symposium was attended and addressed by members of the legal community, including judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Free State High Court. Hosted by Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, the event was also attended by academics.

For more information, contact:

Oupa Segalwe
Manager: Outreach, Education and Communications
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7035
072 264 3273

Published Date: 
Thursday, June 5, 2014