Joburg’s R12bn graft probe ex­posed

The man hunt­ing down crooks tells how he nails them

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO

THE cor­rup­tion-bust­ing Joburg in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit has made ar­rests that have un­cov­ered a stag­ger­ing R2 bil­lion in il­licit deals.

A fur­ther R10bn of Joburg graft is still be­ing probed.

Ma­jor-Gen­eral Shadrack Sibiya, head of the City of Joburg’s in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, told The Star ex­clu­sively that he was shocked at the depth of the cor­rup­tion rot in the coun­try’s eco­nomic cap­i­tal, but he promised to go af­ter all those im­pli­cated in bleed­ing the city’s cof­fers.

“No crim­i­nals will be spared, even those who are po­lit­i­cally con­nected,” Sibiya warned.

The for­mer head of the Hawks in Gaut­eng de­tailed the cor­rup­tion he had un­cov­ered in the city since as­sum­ing his po­si­tion last Novem­ber.

It in­cludes elab­o­rate schemes by the city’s rev­enue depart­ment to de­fraud the pub­lic, brazen syn­di­cates hi­jack­ing in­ner-city build­ings, which he said had caused se­vere ur­ban de­cay, as well as the il­le­gal sell­ing of mu­nic­i­pal land.

Sibiya ex­plained how, two weeks ago, in conjunction with law-en­force­ment agen­cies that in­cluded the Hawks, they had ar­rested two mem­bers of the pub­lic who had al­legedly worked with the city’s rev­enue depart­ment, im­per­son­at­ing debt-col­lec­tors to swin­dle res­i­dents out of money.

“For ex­am­ple, if you buy a house at an auc­tion and that house has a ser­vice bill of R100 000 for rates and taxes, they would get that in­for­ma­tion and ap­proach the new owner to say: ‘You owe the city R100 000. We are aware that you bought a house re­cently. If you pay us 50% of the money, we will write off the rest’,” he said.

“The monies would be paid into their ac­count, which is how they al­legedly op­er­ated. And this was not their first ar­rest. They were ar­rested last year for the same of­fence. When we ar­rested them this year, they were ap­pear­ing in court in a sim­i­lar case,” Sibiya added.

Asked whether the city ob­tained suc­cess­ful prose­cu­tions for the ar­rests they make, Sibiya em­pha­sised: “Yes, we do get suc­cess­ful prose­cu­tions. Re­mem­ber, our ar­rests are fairly new. We are al­ready sit­ting with peo­ple who are plea-bar­gain­ing.”

The gen­eral was adamant that Joburg would re­coup the money em­bez­zled from its ratepay­ers and the city’s cof­fers.

“Some of the pro­cesses rely on law-en­force­ment agen­cies, such as the As­set For­fei­ture Unit, where we have to first trace the assets of the per­pe­tra­tors and then pur­sue them through a civil case,” he ex­plained.

“As we speak, I am busy ar­rang­ing for the ar­rest of peo­ple who are sell­ing off coun­cil land – empty stands that be­long to the city.”

Sibiya would not be drawn on re­leas­ing the names of peo­ple and com­pa­nies that were per­pe­trat­ing graft in the city be­fore the court pro­cesses are con­cluded.

He pointed out that mu­nic­i­pal land was be­ing sold for between R80 000 and R100 000 in cases where they are aware that the money was be­ing de­posited into dif­fer­ent ac­counts which they have been track­ing.

An­nounc­ing his ap­point­ment last year, mayor Her­man Mashaba said he was bring­ing in the coun­try’s “best in­ves­ti­ga­tor” to crack down on cor­rup­tion in the city.

“When I came into the city, I found cases of cor­rup­tion that needed at­ten­tion… I do not have ex­per­tise and knowl­edge to in­ves­ti­gate them and I’m not com­pe­tent to do the job, hence the es­tab­lish­ment of the unit for the city,” Mashaba said at the time.

Sibiya stressed that he had heeded the mayor’s call, say­ing his unit had adopted the “shock and awe” mil­i­tary mantra for it­self.

It is a mil­i­tary term that seeks to neu­tralise the en­emy (cor­rup­tion), then de­stroy it com­pletely.

This mantra, Sibiya added, is used to tackle the more than 80 hi­jacked build­ings in the in­ner city, where he con­ceded that known syn­di­cates are also at play.

“Of course, there are syn­di­cates and we are work­ing on them.

“We are busy in the kitchen cook­ing…

“We have al­ready ar­rested five peo­ple who are part of the syn­di­cate.

“We are not at lib­erty to dis­close the na­tion­al­ity of the crime lords that were in­volved in the syn­di­cates that have been bust,” Sibiya added.


Yes, we do get suc­cess­ful prose­cu­tions...

SYN­DI­CATE HUNTER: Ma­jor-Gen­eral Shadrack Sibiya talks to The Star about his unit’s suc­cesses in fight­ing graft in­volv­ing bil­lions in the City of Joburg. PIC­TURE: BHEKIKHAYA MABASO

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