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Enough is Enough – The Time To Take a Stand Against Corruption is Now


Enough is Enough – The Time To Take a Stand Against Corruption is Now

While assassinated whistleblower Babita Deokaran is surely turning in her grave, countless corrupt individuals continue to dance on it.

Whoever coined the phrase “Crime doesn’t pay” clearly never lived in South Africa.

Disgraced Tembisa Hospital CEO Ashley Mthunzi – a key player in the R1-billion corruption scandal exposed by Deokaran – earned a cool R2.5 million sitting at home while the disciplinary process around his involvement moved with glacial speed.

Even more galling is that, although Mthunzi passed away suddenly towards the end of April, the investigation into allegations of his wrongdoings was taking so long (he was suspended in August 2022) that he was technically “in service” i.e. employed by the Department of Health, at the time of his death.

This means the beneficiaries of his estate will continue to enjoy a raft of payments from the Government Employees Pension Fund long after his death.

Jeff Wicks, an investigative reporter for News24, says the disciplinary process for Mthunzi was ridiculously slow. “Six months after his initial suspension, the Department of Health was unable to produce a charge sheet,” he says.

“It is a significant indictment on the Gauteng Department of Health that it was not brought to conclusion before his death. In the private sector, these matters are concluded in weeks.”

The injustice of the situation is absolute, and the insult to Babita Deokaran’s memory is breathtaking.

Understandably, her family is outraged. The beloved daughter, wife and mother was shot and killed outside her home on 23 August, 2021. While six men have since been arrested and convicted on various charges relating to the killing, the actual shooter, and the assassination mastermind, remain at large.

To add insult to injury, Mthunzi’s alleged partner in crime, Gauteng Health CFO Lerato Madyo, received nearly R3 million in salary while on suspension pending the conclusion of an investigation into his activities.

Both he and Mthunzi faced 13 misconduct charges related to inflated medical supply contracts, resulting in excessive expenditure by the State.

The entire fiasco begs the question – was Babita’s violent and tragic death completely in vain? Will anyone ever be successfully held accountable for the rampant corruption at Thembisa Hospital?

“The DA is most concerned by slow discipline against officials accused of irregular activities involving huge amounts of money that should have been used to improve treatment for patients,” says DA Gauteng shadow MEC for Health, Jack Bloom.

“Excessive delays also mean millions of rands are paid to officials suspended with pay. Could it be that some cases are dragged out as they could implicate senior ANC officials? Professional management of disciplinary cases is needed to ensure speedy justice.”

When respected online newspaper, Daily Maverick reached out to the Gauteng Hawks for comment, they received this reply from spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha:

“I am informed the investigation is at an advanced stage… the investigation itself has many facets. With regard to the deceased person [Mthunzi], it won’t hinder the investigation process much. Now, it would mean that the deceased’s part or alleged role will have to be excluded as they won’t be able to account for themselves.”

Dead men tell no tales, they don’t face sanction for their wrongdoings, and their families get to live the highlife on the profits of their actions.

Surely enough is now enough? How can we expect corruption to stop if it keeps being rewarded?

One of the biggest problems is, no one at the top of the food chain is even close to setting an example of what good, honest, servant leadership looks like. Things haven’t really improved much since the dark days (months…years…) when Jacob Zuma was in charge. When those trusted to lead us keep getting away with corrupt behaviour, what’s stopping everyone else from trying to do the same?

An article in the Daily Maverick sums it up perfectly: “There was an almost direct link between Zuma’s behaviour – and that he got away with it publicly – and the fact that so many people were involved in corruption. Driver’s licence centres, the Department of Home Affairs, the SA Police Service, and pretty much everywhere there was a chance to make a quick buck.”

There’s an old Italian saying stemming from the bad old days of the Sicilian Mafia, which I feel is sadly hugely relevant to quote here: “Tutti colpevoli, nessuno colpevole” which translates as “If everyone is guilty, then no one is.”

Our current President has said publicly on many occasions that he is opposed to corruption. And yet he continues to populate much of his government with people against whom there are multiple allegations of corrupt behaviour.

Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, David Mahlobo, is a case in point.

The Zondo Commission stated, “The Commission finds that Mr Mahlobo did indeed involve himself in operational matters at the State Security Agency (SSA), and further that large amounts of cash were delivered to him on several occasions.”

By continuing to employ Mahlobo (and many others), our president makes a mockery of his anti-corruption stance.

Imagine if the CEO of a private company employed a person in a position of authority and trust who had similar judgements against him. There would be relentless calls for the CEOs head. 

Our honourable President, on the other hand, is happy to essentially say that he will ignore the findings of the Zondo Commission until such time as “charges are preferred against anyone, we are then able to follow through.”

And we all know who’s ultimately responsible for bringing those charges and making them stick.

It’s more than a little ironic, it’s an utter travesty – and South Africans are sick of it.

We’re sick of excuses. Mr Ramaphosa is the President of our country. He is entitled to shake up his cabinet at will. There is nothing whatsoever standing in his way if he decided to remove Mahlobo (and others with a wobbly moral compass) with immediate effect.

Nothing, perhaps, except a gang of sycophantic pocket liners too invested in profiting from corruption to ever think about taking steps to stop it.

Ramaphosa frequently tells us he needs our help, and that it will take a combined effort and “all of society” to fight corruption.

Does he not see himself as part of the very society he mentions in his “making the right noises” speeches? Evidently not, as he of all people has the power to fight – he simply chooses not to use it.

Our illustrious leader is wrong when he claims that “the greatest damage [from corruption] will be to the belief in democracy itself.”

The greatest damage will be to our country, and the people struggling to live decent lives within its borders.