Daily Dispatch

A tsunami of theft


It is easy to understand why people in the Eastern Cape have become inured to the problems of fraud and corruption. Billions go missing from government coffers with such frequency that news of yet further looting of state resources – like the R200-million fraud perpetrate­d by the Department of Health officials – no longer shocks us.

Forensic investigat­ions seem to do little to deter the tsunami of theft that is engulfing this province. Perhaps because the results are frequently hidden from public view and those with political links seem to think they are entitled, not only to escape the consequenc­es of crime, but to resurface elsewhere where they can continue to leech off the public purse.

It is this sense of brazen entitlemen­t, this irritation with the law, this mentality that says “it is our turn to eat” that has ravaged much of Africa.

And while corruption and fraud are by no means limited to this continent, or this province, our margins for error are so much narrower when we are in the Third World and particular­ly its poorest part.

Inevitably fraud and corruption mete their cruellest punishment on the poorest of the poor. It deprives them of the benefits that should be provided by state resources.

And probably the most iniquitous form of this crime is when it takes place in the health service. This is a department that daily balances the scales of life and death.

Daily it has the potential to extend life for the most vulnerable in its care. Daily its responsibi­lity is to ease their suffering, treat their diseases and save their lives.

However a department hollowed out by theft can no longer provide proper care. It cannot be a signifier of health but becomes a turnstile for unnecessar­y pain, suffering and death. In effect it becomes a department of death.

It is for this reason that when an investigat­ion is instigated those who launched it deserve support and applause. Further it behoves every right thinking citizen to demand the thousands of department­al employees involved in siphoning off of R200-million must be held accountabl­e in every way.

They must not, like the former mayor of Buffalo City Zukisa Faku, think they are entitled to a light tap on the wrist for stealing from the public purse. If ever it was time for strong consequenc­es it is now – the poor and needy of this province do not deserve unscrupulo­us individual­s who would feed off their life blood.

The perpetrato­rs must be criminally charged and banished from the public service.

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