#Scopa: Anti-corruption task team grilled for neglecting to report on graft at SOEs

Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza was accused by various people in the Scopa of not taking the fight against corruption seriously. (Lucky Nxumalo)

Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza was accused by various people in the Scopa of not taking the fight against corruption seriously. (Lucky Nxumalo)

Hawks boss General Berning Ntlemeza is in the hot seat. Ntlemeza appeared in front of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) to report on the performance of the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT), which he co-chairs. But while the ACTT provided some details on corruption in government departments, it neglected to report back on state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The Scopa meeting with various organisations involved in the ACTT has been ongoing for the past four hours.
There have been concerns raised around how the ACTT works, who is involved in the task team and why the report the ACTT has provided to Scopa has no information on SOEs.

“The figures that you have given us are only all about [government] departments. And yet, generally, you hear SOEs are in chaos and in the news for all the wrong reasons. They’re like the milking cows, but all you have given us pertains to departments,” said Scopa chair Themba Godi.

The day has been an uncomfortable one for Ntlemeza, who was accused by various people in the Scopa of not taking the fight against corruption seriously. The meeting had to adjourn so that members of the task team could decide who would answer what questions. When they came back, General Alfred Khana, the acting Hawks boss in KwaZulu-Natal, took questions on SOEs.

“Honourable chair and honourable members, let me first apologise for the omittance of this. The fact is we are dealing with cases involving SOEs, but for this purpose we were on the assumption, and the wrong assumption, that we must focus on government departments. There are matters that we are dealing with on Prasa, Eskom, Denel … the list is endless,” Khana said.

But he was quickly reprimanded by Godi, who said that Scopa had clearly stated in the letter it sent to the ACTT that it required a report on public entities and government departments who have been investigated.

“We want the complete picture. What you have given us is maybe a quarter or half the picture,” Godi said.

The ACTT will have to deliver its report on SOEs next Wednesday, and it will have to include details on what is being investigated, how much money is involved and what the current status of the investigation is. The identities of people involved in the cases may be protected but where there is a conviction, full details must be made available.

A not so serious task team 
Wednesday’s meeting was the first time the ACTT appeared before Scopa, but it was a blow to the unit, who were accused by members of Scopa of not taking their jobs seriously and being unprepared. Ntlemeza explained that the task team comprised of various institutions, but not everyone showed up to scheduled meetings. The members of the ACTT are:

•National treasury

•The Development Bank of South Africa

•State Security

•The Special Investigating Unit

•The South African Revenue Service

•The Financial Intelligence Centre

•The National Prosecuting Authority

•The Hawks

•The South African Police Service

•The justice department

•The Government Communication and Information System

•The national intelligence co-ordinating committee

•The department of monitoring and evaluation

Only six organisations within the ACTT appeared before Scopa, while the rest were absent with no known reason. The ANC’s Vincent Smith took Ntlemeza to task because the unit has shown only a 28% successful conviction rate.

“A student can’t even pass matric if they get below 30%,” Smith said.

Ntlemeza told Scopa that 399 government officials had been arrested and convicted since 2014. The corruption cases had amounted to more than R10-billion.

So far, the task team has dealt with 189 cases, but only 68 have been finalised and 77 are still under investigation.

Ra'eesa Pather

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