It’s important that you know your rights – and your duties. We’ve started with the basics and, over time and as our various campaigns get under way, we will be extending this list to provide you with more information.
You have the right not to be a victim of corruption. Everyone has the same right to be served fairly and without being discriminated against. Someone who participates in corruption or pays a bribe should not be served before you, and should not receive more services or better quality services than you.
If you have experienced corruption, or you have witnessed corruption, you have the following rights:
1. Fairness, dignity and privacy
The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for your dignity and privacy.
You have the right to be attended to promptly and courteously, and treated with respect for your dignity and privacy by all members of any department, institution, agency or organisation dealing with or providing a service to you.
During their investigation into your complaint, the police, the prosecutors and other officials will take measures to minimise any inconvenience to you by, among others, conducting interviews with you in your language of choice and in private, if necessary.
2. Receive information
The right to request and obtain public information without being required to justify that request.
You have the right to be informed of your rights and of how to exercise them. You can, as part of this right, ask government officials for explanations in your own language of anything you do not understand.
You have the right to receive information and to be informed of all relevant services available to you by government service providers. You are entitled to receive documents to which the law entitles you to have access.
You can request to receive notification of administrative and legal proceedings which you have the right to attend. If you open a criminal case related to the corruption you experienced or witnessed, you will be informed by the police of your role in the case and of the approximate duration of the case. You can request information regarding court dates, witness fees and the witness protection programme. You can ask to be informed of the status of the case, whether or not the offender has been arrested, charged, granted bail, indicted, convicted, or sentenced. You may request reasons for a decision that has been taken in your case on whether to prosecute or not.
3. Offer information
The right to offer information about corruption.
You have the right to offer information during the investigation.
If a criminal case is opened as a result of the information you reported, this right means that you can participate (if necessary and where possible) in criminal justice proceedings, by attending the bail hearing, the trial, sentencing proceedings and/or Parole Board hearing. It means that you will have the opportunity to make a further statement to the police if you realise that your first statement is incomplete; you may also, where appropriate, make a statement to the court or give evidence during the sentencing proceedings to bring the impact of the crime to the court’s attention.
4. The right to protection.
You have the right to be free from intimidation, harassment, fear, tampering, bribery, corruption and abuse. If you are a witness in a criminal case, you must report any such threats to the police or to a senior state prosecutor at the court.
In certain cases, and if you comply with certain requirements, the police who are investigating the case may apply for you to be placed in a witness protection programme. If such an application is successful, you will be placed in a witness protection programme where you will be protected, as far as possible, from all forms of undue influence, harassment or intimidation. This will ensure your safety as a witness and the availability of your testimony, and prevent you from withdrawing from giving evidence as a result of undue influence.
In certain circumstances, the court may prohibit the publication of any information, including your identity, or it may order that the trial be held behind closed doors (in camera).
Because corruption affects us all, it is our common concern. We therefore all have a duty to learn to recognise it, report it and take a stand against corruption whenever we come across it.
In some cases, reporting corruption is more than just a duty; it is a legal obligation:
The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act requires people in “positions of authority” in the public and private sectors to report corruption and other crimes listed in the Act involving more than R100 000, to the police. If they don’t, they will be guilty of a crime, and subject to a fine or imprisonment.
The Code of Conduct for the Public Service requires all employees of the public service to report corruption to an appropriate authority.
You can report corruption to the South African Police Service or to other institutions that have been set up to investigate specific types of corruption.
Your rights in law
- Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996
- Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act [No. 56 of 2003]
- Protected Disclosures Act [No. 26 of 2000]
- Promotion of Administrative Justice Act [No. 3 of 2000]
- Promotion of Access to Information Act [No. 2 of 2000]
- Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act [No. 12 of 2004]
- Public Finance Management Act [No. 1 of 1999]
- Public Service Act – Proclamation 103 [Published in Government Gazette 15791 of 3 June 1994]
- Protection from Harassment Act, 2011 (Act 17 of 2011)