Covid-19 corruption: Freeze of former Agri CFO’s pension a welcome precedent

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the precedent set by the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) decision to freeze the pension benefits of dismissed Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) CFO, Jacob Basil Hlatshwayo, over the alleged irregular awarding of a PPE contract by the Department.

We now call on the SIU to pursue similar personal liability costs against all government officials who have been implicated in Covid-19 corruption in line with findings made by SIU investigations. Individuals who took part in an industrial scale looting of Covid-19 funds are currently walking around free and, worse, still in the employ of government.

Action against Covid-19 corruption needed a move away from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s empty rhetoric on fighting corruption, towards practical action that not only sent a warning message to would be offenders but held to account those who were implicated. The DA is encouraged that the SIU has taken the initiative to increase the penalty of corruption by going for the financial assets of a corruption accused state official.

DALRRD Minister, Thoko Didiza, should now work with the SIU and other law enforcement agencies to identify all the officials who worked with Mr Hlatshwayo to embezzle state funds from the Department. In addition to criminal charges, the implicated officials must also face state asset recovery orders individually.

While a steady stream of SIU reports uncovered widespread corruption on the R500 billion stimulus package, none of those implicated have been arraigned before a court of law and convicted. This lethargic approach to corruption by the ANC only serves to perpetuate the culture of corruption, in the process depriving ordinary South Africans of much needed service delivery.

With politicians failing to take decisive action against corruption, the DA welcomes the actions being taken by independent law enforcement agencies to step up and ensure that corrupt elements are held personally liable for their actions.