Jail all cor­rupt bosses

CityPress - - Voices -

Dur­ing the in­fancy stages of our democ­racy, our ad­min­is­tra­tion and se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties seemed to send a clear mes­sage that cor­rup­tion had no place in the new South Africa.

One of the first big cor­rup­tion scan­dals, the arms deal, claimed its poster boy Tony Yen­geni, who was jailed for fraud, af­ter re­ceiv­ing a dis­count on a lux­ury SUV from one of the bid­ders for the con­tracts.

Back then we had a work­ing, pros­e­cu­tor-driven in­ves­tiga­tive team known as the Scor­pi­ons, who in­stilled fear in those who were en­gaged in or planned to com­mit ne­far­i­ous acts.

The fear was pal­pa­ble as it ap­peared that jus­tice was be­ing done. So, the coun­try had a sense of hope.

Fast-for­ward to 2017. The emer­gence of the Gupta leaks has shown how one fam­ily has been us­ing sta­te­owned en­ti­ties as its own per­sonal fief­dom to draw out cash when­ever it feels like. The rot at power util­ity Eskom ex­em­pli­fies this by show­ing how of­fi­cials meant to serve the pub­lic abused their po­si­tions to ben­e­fit them­selves, the Gup­tas and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

Eskom bosses paid the Gup­tas R600 mil­lion in ad­vance and even of­fered bank guar­an­tees to the fam­ily’s com­pany, Tegeta, to ac­quire Op­ti­mum Coal, af­ter its own­ers were put un­der pres­sure to sell.

Anoj Singh, Eskom’s fi­nan­cial head, is the lat­est ex­ec­u­tive to be placed on spe­cial leave by the pub­lic util­ity over his in­volve­ment in con­tro­ver­sial deals with the Gup­tas. Its sus­pended act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mat­shela Koko, faces pos­si­ble charges for his al­leged in­volve­ment in award­ing Eskom con­tracts which saw his step­daugh­ter’s com­pany ben­e­fit. And for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Brian Molefe is tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against Eskom over a R30 mil­lion set­tle­ment he claims he was of­fered for re­sign­ing from the com­pany.

Now a Trea­sury in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as re­ported in the pa­per to­day, sug­gests that a probe be con­ducted to find out if any of the Eskom ex­ec­u­tives re­ceived pay­ment from the Gup­tas for Tegeta coal deals and to find out who ac­cepted paid trips to Dubai by the con­tro­ver­sial fam­ily. The re­port – which was up­dated fol­low­ing the Gupta leaks – says Singh must be probed for fa­cil­i­tat­ing the ap­point­ments of sup­pli­ers in a lo­co­mo­tive deal dur­ing his time at Transnet.

The calls to probe th­ese of­fi­cials, as well as the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Eskom and many other probes that are un­der way, are all wel­come. It is time the Hawks, the po­lice, the SIU and other law en­force­ment agen­cies acted. Huge crimes have been com­mit­ted. Ar­rests are over­due. Only then will wouldbe crim­i­nals refuse to en­ter into cor­rupt deals.

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