Public Protector calls on organs of state and organisations to be corruption and fraud proof

Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela has called on organisations and organs of state to use investigation findings and compliance enforcement to make their organisations corruption and fraud proof. During her keynote address to a packed hall of investigators and fraud examiners from 18 African countries who are attending the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) conference at the Sandton Convention Centre, Public Protector opined that the prevention of corruption and fraud is the key to the fight against these maladies.
In her address which focused on “Investigations-the last resort”, the Public Protector advised organisations to ensure that investigations were not only of a high quality but also that they were always completed. She informed delegates that her office employs a two pronged approach to each investigation that involves ensuring justice in the case at hand while using each investigation opportunity to act as a catalyst for change to prevent recurrence. She further said that lessons drawn from investigations had the potential to highlight system deficiencies that operate as enablers for fraud and corruption.
“Good investigations contribute to the prevention of corruption and fraud whereas bad investigations contribute to an enabling environment where corruption and fraud thrive”, she said.
The Public Protector further warned that failure to deal properly with cases, in particular the closing of incomplete investigations, usually on account of giving a suspected wrongdoer an option to resign, deprives organisation of an opportunity to understand what really happened and to implement measures to prevent a recurrence. She further stated that incomplete investigations also encourage impunity while depriving the wrongdoer of an opportunity to learn from their mistakes often leading to repeat offending in the future. She decried the recycling of people who evaded accountability back into the government system, with history often repeating itself.
The Public Protector highlighted three areas where corruption and fraud abound yet there are numerous opportunities to be harnessed to reinforce prevention. She said such opportunities primarily lie in fastidious enforcement of compliance and using lessons from investigation findings to reinforce systems. “Overcharging, false billing and misrepresentation of qualifications are some of the key corruption and fraud related practices we regularly come across when we investigate tenders and other state contracts or transactions”.
The Public Protector said billions of rands are lost through these three. The first two incur direct loss to the state and ultimately tax payers, she said, while the issue of misrepresentation of qualification increases risks of non delivery or inadequate delivery. In all cases fraud is involved and in some cases the fraud is coupled with or supported by corruption involving the collusion of internal actors within organs of state. “Overcharging and false billing are preventable through due diligence, yet the state loses billions everyday due to these maladies,” said the Public Protector.
She pointed out that there are numerous treasury guides that if complied with could prevent such loss. She also pointed out that investigative reports, including those of forensic investigators also present excellent opportunities for drawing lessons and adapting organisational systems to minimise corruption and fraud risks.
The Public Protector also pointed out that where impunity is allowed this also becomes an enabling factor or incentive for corruption and fraud. She further called on society to see corruption and fraud as criminal acts and as an aberration in the society that needs society to join hands against.
The conference which commenced on Monday, brought under one roof delegates from local private and public sector and from various African countries to share experiences and expertise on how to deal with fraud and corruption.
On Thursday October 4, the Public Protector will be addressing the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature. The meeting forms part of the Annual Stakeholder Dialogue that took place between July and August 2012.
For more information, contact:
Kgalalelo Masibi
Spokesperson: Public Protector South Africa
079 507 0399
012 366 7006
0800 11 20 40
Published Date: 
Wednesday, October 3, 2012