ETHEKWINI

Fighting corruption

Zanele Mxunyelwa from National Treasury
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Fraud, not only affects service delivery, but it also skims money allocated to the poor - and the time has come to do something about it. Corporate businesses in South Africa have lost a staggering R160 million in revenue because of fraud and corruption.

The alarming figure was revealed by the President of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners SA, Servaas du Plessis on Wednesday, 18 November 2015, during the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Seminar at the Durban City Hall.

Speaking at the seminar, anti- fraud and corruption experts said the unscrupulous practise usually starts small before escalating. “Fraud and corruption starts small with the boss’s personal assistant taking money from the petty cash box or an employee stealing a pen, file or stapler from the office,” said du Plessis addressing more than 300 people that had attended the one-day seminar.

Du Plessis said fraud, not only affects service delivery, but it also skims money allocated to the poor. “That is when the rich get richer while the poor get poorer,” he said.

Zanele Mxunyelwa, a Senior General Manager in the Office of the Accountant General at National Treasury said fraud and corruption is a crime against humanity. “It slows economic growth in the country,” she said.

Mxunyelwa added that the challenge faced by her office is the shortage of certified fraud examiners.

Her office had however, managed to recover millions from perpetrators. Since the beginning of the year, her office had referred 50 cases to court. Bulelwa Vimbani, a Senior State Advocate for the National Prosecuting Authority in Durban said her department deals with various fraud and corruption cases, including tender, medical aid, identity and procurement. Sharing some of her department’s success cases, Vimbani said in the 2014/5 financial year her office had finalised 212 cases with a 97.2 percent conviction rate.

Her department is often faced with several challenges, which sometimes hinder investigations. “Our cases stand and fall on evidence by witnesses,” she said.

“Witnesses are reluctant to testify when they get threatened. We do offer them witness protection, but many of them don’t want to be taken away from their loved ones. This means that we are sometimes forced to withdraw cases, because of the lack of evidence from witnesses.”

EThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo said the seminar was long overdue. “In the current Integrated Development Plan, our Municipality has deliberately focused on steering the organisation on a path of compliance and rooting out fraud and corruption which has undoubtedly set the necessary foundation for sustainable service delivery,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Belinda Scott said: “As government we maintain that we have a sound anti-corruption framework, inclusive of both strong legislation and institutional mechanisms, which require optimal utilisation.”

The seminar was organised by the City to commemorate International Fraud Awareness Week (IFAW) which runs from 15-21 November 2015.

IFAW is promoted globally in November every year as part of a campaign to raise awareness about fraud.

In partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the Municipality conceptualised a programme to mobilise all stakeholders to respond to the challenges of bad governance and improve on strategies aimed at promoting good governance.

In line with eThekwini’s City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) goals adopted in Plan 7 of the Integrated Development Plan, the Unit is mobilising all stakeholders to join the fight against fraud and corruption.

Tozi Mthethwa

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