Dear Corruption Watch
I am employed as a junior member in the South African Police Service (SAPS). My unit has been renting a building from a private owner for a number of years now, for which we pay a considerable amount every month. The owner of the building wants to send the whole police unit on a safari trip – all expenses paid. I do not feel comfortable with this trip because each and every month the exorbitant rent is paid by the State. I am scared of victimisation so I need advice on this matter.
What you describe certainly sounds suspicious. We would have hoped that SAPS learnt a lesson when Bheki Cele was fired as National Police Commissioner for securing a R1.7 million lease agreement for his buddy, Roux Shabangu for police HQ. But the renting of SAPS buildings at inflated prices for kickbacks still seems a rife form of corruption. Often the problem lies not only with the SAPS, but with corruption or administrative bungling in the National Department of Public Works.
Bribery and corruption occurs when gifts or hospitalities are offered or given for an improper advantage – like having the proper tender procedures flouted and getting rent paid at an inflated price. Note that simply offering a gift for corrupt purposes is an offence – even if the gift is declined.
To prevent corruption, the SAPS employment regulations specifically prohibit SAPS members from using their official position to obtain private gifts or benefits.
This law also states that SAPS employees must “report to the appropriate authorities any fraud, corruption, nepotism, maladministration and any other act which constitutes an offence, or which is prejudicial to the public interest.”
I must first advise you that if you fail to report your suspicions to the police, you will be committing a criminal offence. You should report the matter by calling the police anticorruption hotline, Crime Stop at 08600 10111 and by filing a complaints with the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (IPID). The IPID is set up especially to investigate cases of police misconduct and police corruption. The contact details for all the regional offices are on the Corruption Watch website: https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/content/who-can-help or go to the IPID website: www.ipid.gov.za/lodge_complaint/lodge_complaint.asp
Other reporting channels are:
- The Public Service Anti-Corruption Hotline at 0800 701 701. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a toll-free fax to 0800 204 965. You can remain completely anonymous if you wish.
- The Public Protector, who has already investigated similar cases of corruption over the rent of SAPS building. You can contact the Public Protector by: calling the complaints office at 0800 11 20 40 (toll-free); emailing email@example.com; or completing the online complaints form at http://www.pprotect.org/lodge_complaint/complaints_form.asp.
As an employee, the Protected Disclosures Act, 2000 protects you are against victimisation, reprisals and discrimination if you blow the whistle on corruption and follow the proper procedures in doing so. This means that you cannot be fired, or demoted or otherwise victimised as a result of your disclosure. If you are not comfortable raising the complaint with your employer, which it seems you are not, you will be following the proper channels if you report to the IPID.
The last sticky issue is whether you should go along on the safari. Since you suspect that the trip is an attempt to buy improper favour with you and your colleagues in the SAPS, you should not accept the offer. To be discrete, I suggest you call in sick.
• This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times