Gordhan: Law enforcement is not acting against corruption

8th December 2023 By: News24Wire

 Gordhan: Law enforcement is not acting against corruption

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan
Photo by: Reuters

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has blasted law enforcement agencies, saying that they must come to the fore to address State capture and corruption at State-owned entities. 

Addressing Parliament's Select Committee for Public Enterprises and Communication on Thursday, Gordhan said years of State capture had had a devastating impact on the finances and management of State entities. 

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) was updating the committee on its progress in implementing recommendations from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

According to the DPE, more than R55-billion in "tainted" state capture contracts were awarded within Transnet, Eskom, and South African Airways (SAA). Transnet contracts amounted to R41.2-billion, while Eskom and SAA contracts amounted to R14.7-billion and R1.8-billion, respectively. 

Some 95 delinquency proceedings have been initiated with 92 former directors of State-owned corporations for their involvement in State capture.

Eskom had 13 cases of delinquency, Transnet had 25 cases, and SAA had 25 cases. 

In terms of the Companies Act, if an individual is declared delinquent, they will be disqualified from being a director of a company for a given period.

Meanwhile, law enforcement has failed to make significant strides in prosecuting those responsible, despite a serious need to punish corruption, according to Gordhan.

"The risk of consequences [for those participating in State capture] is certainly not there to the full extent, which encourages mischief. At the moment, our law enforcement entities are not making the kind of impact and progress needed to mark their presence in their ability to act against corruption and fraudulent behaviour - whether this is in the past or in the present," he said.

Efforts to battle State capture have been dealt a serious blow by a lack of successful prosecutions.

Investigators have also said they have been hampered by institutional constraints when investigating State capture, including limited skills and capable prosecutors within their ranks, as well as a shortage of specialised accountants, auditors, and financial investigators within the public sector.

Last month, the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) case against former Eskom CEO, Matshela Koko, was thrown out of Middelburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court after the case experienced "unreasonable delays". This is after the State admitted it was still waiting for witness testimonies from several individuals, and that expert and forensic financial reports were incomplete. 

Koko was accused of using his influence to draw an irregular R2.2-billion contract at the Kusile power station in Mpumalanga.

Meanwhile, the NPA's Investigative Directorate (ID) also expressed its disappointment after those accused in the R24.9-million Nulane fraud and money-laundering case were given a summary acquittal. 

In the case, former Transnet Board member and owner of Nulane Investments, Iqbal Sharma, had been paid R24.9-million by the Free State Department of Agriculture for a fraudulent feasibility study for the Mohoma Mbung project.

Nulane then subcontracted Deloitte for the work for R1.5-million. The company allegedly changed the findings of the Deloitte study to benefit an Indian farm linked to the Guptas as a partner for the milk processing plant in Vrede. 

Following the judgment, the ID labelled the sentence "a miscarriage of justice" and said it "was contrary to legal precedent, constituting a gross irregularity in the trial". It said the court's findings were "prejudicial to the State".

However, law enforcement agencies have also said their mandate is to investigate State capture, and not influence court proceedings.

In June, the Hawks revealed that the only two people who had been prosecuted for State capture had been given suspended sentences, including former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni. Myeni pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in naming a protected witness at the State Capture Inquiry. 

Hawks boss, Godfrey Lebeya, said the job of the Hawks had a mandate to investigate cases and submit them to court properly. He said the court's jurisdiction to hand out sentences was "out of the reach" of the Hawks.