Yet another breakthrough was made in our ‘all out’ fight against corruption and crime involving those who should be upholding the law. Today, 20 Home Affairs officials and 6 civilians were arrested in Bloemfontein. This was as a result of a carefully planned joint operation involving law enforcement agencies and the Home Affairs counter-corruption branch.
The 26 people were apprehended during the operation, on charges relating to fraud and corruption. A number of successes were made recently, but we still have people who are refusing to learn from mistakes of others until they themselves are caught.
Corruption has a detrimental effect on government’s effort to deliver effective services to the people. Today’s arrests therefore demonstrate in concrete terms government’s zero-tolerance for crime as well as South Africa’s fight against corruption in both the private and public sector.
We are driven by a sharp resolve to combat criminality in all its manifestations. In July 2015 we launched Operation Bvisa Masina, to intensify the fight against fraud and corruption. This is a collaborative effort aimed at clearing the rot from the organization, working in close collaboration with law enforcement agencies and government departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster.
Prior to today’s arrests, since the launch of Operation Bvisa Masina, 83 people were arrested, of which, 42 were officials of the department, 41 were non-officials. That means officials make up 51% of all arrests while non-officials make up the other 49%.
Their arrests were for false documentation, bribery, aiding and abetting, impersonation, revenue theft and fraudulent violations relating to births, marriages and deaths. The more prevalent was fake documentation, followed by aiding and abetting, with the least being revenue theft.
Those arrested are appearing before various magistrate courts in the land. Internally, the implicated officials were suspended and subjected to disciplinary action. Last year, 37 officials were dismissed for fraud and corruption.
Internal data shows a remarkable decline in civics violations, with most transgressions being recorded in immigration. Of the 83 arrests, 61 were related to immigration, 22 to civic services.
This trend points to the efficacy of our Modernisation Programme whose pillars include the Live Capture system for identity documents, making it difficult for corrupt officials to commit fraud.
In the broader scheme of things, this should explain also our department’s focus on tightening immigration laws and their enforcement while phasing in new systems for managing the movement of people, services and goods.
Preventative measures in the department include promoting ethical behavior through various interventions and training programmes.
Some of the interventions in place are intended to improve the quality of decision-making, responsibility, good conduct, patriotism, integrity and accountability among officials.
Such instructive programmes are reinforced by the Home Affairs Moetapele Leadership Initiative aimed at improving client experience in all our offices.
The National Development Plan calls for the development of a society with zero tolerance for corruption. We all have a role to play in fighting corruption.
We expect public officials to lead the way in this regard. Corruption will not flourish if we all are to take personal responsibility for stopping it.
Therefore we will spare no effort in pursuit of those in the system and in society who undermine the national drive towards service delivery improvement. There is no place in our department, or elsewhere in government, for corrupt officials bent on reversing the gains of democracy.