Fight against graft is eroded

The Sunday Independent - - Dispatches -

THE FREE State High Court rul­ing to un­freeze the Gupta-owned as­sets left crit­i­cal-think­ing South Africans, ask­ing the prover­bial ques­tion: does the judge rep­re­sent the new dawn of the “Thuma mina” mantra?

Law en­force­ment agen­cies have been put­ting a lot of ef­fort into deal­ing with crime to re­store the rule of law in the pub­lic in­ter­est but the ju­di­ciary haven’t seen any logic in plac­ing pub­lic in­ter­est above rea­son­able grounds.

For the com­mon folks in so­ci­ety pub­lic in­ter­est out­weighs and over­rides any rea­son­able ground. Hence, there’s con­ster­na­tion over the judge’s con­clu­sion that it’s rea­son­able for the as­sets of the fugi­tives al­legedly linked in cor­rup­tion to be given carte blanche.

This rea­son­able­ness has gone to ex­tremes, un­der­min­ing the fight against graft in busi­ness and government. Clearly, the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Author­ity should ap­peal against this judg­ment.

In the same way the un­der­trained po­lice act on a tip-off from law-abid­ing cit­i­zens to close in on sus­pi­cious char­ac­ters har­bour­ing ex­plo­sives con­nected to the spate of cash-in-tran­sit heists. As ex­pected, the courts let the sus­pects go on the grounds that po­lice bun­gled the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, al­low­ing these crim­i­nals to go back to the draw­ing board.

While we’re in a deep slum­ber ve­hi­cles trans­port­ing cash are hit with the very ex­plo­sives found used in heists in­volv­ing loss of life as the courts set the sus­pects free be­cause of in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence.

This ul­ti­mately leads the pub­lic to lose con­fi­dence in the sys­tem, adding to po­lice com­pla­cency to­wards crime.

When in­vestors raise con­cerns about crime, ask­ing us how we got to this point, all the blame is laid on the gov­ern­ing party. That’s pro­pa­ganda. The truth is that cit­i­zens do their part to alert po­lice to crime for per­pe­tra­tors to be ap­pre­hended, but the ju­di­ciary doesn’t give the pub­lic in­ter­est equal con­sid­er­a­tion as rea­son­able grounds.

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