NATIONAL NEWS - Organised crime flourished under Jacob Zuma’s presidency as South Africa’s criminal justice agencies were manipulated for political and personal gain, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and Corruption Watch found.
The submission was handed to the Zondo Commission in April and made public on Wednesday 19 June, stating that crime intelligence was used during the Zuma era to promote the power of the ANC’s dominant faction by manipulating party processes and elections, ensuring Zuma and his allies were not held accountable for illegal activity.
Interference in the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority, as well as the SA Police Service (SAPS) and its crime intelligence division, helped to entrench state capture.
In the end it was the inability to hide the scale of looting, and the sheer audacity of attempts to capture every key institution of the state - particularly the Treasury and related institutions like SARS - that led to the demise of the corrupt Zuma regime. The criminal justice system was also manipulated under former president Thabo Mbeki, but was pursued more consistently and aggressively under Zuma, at the expense of South Africans’ safety and economic well-being.
According to the ISS and Corruption Watch, corruption was allowed to proliferate as the capacity to investigate complex commercial crimes was curbed, and the looting of state resources was disregarded in order to protect powerful political factions. Mismanagement of the criminal justice agencies led to declines in their performance as they became a hostile environment for people committed to the rule of law. Interference in the police, and the appointment of police leadership without appropriate skills, led to a surge in armed robberies.
Car hijacking, cash-in-transit heists, and robberies at homes and businesses are often linked to organised crime groups and there was a surge in these crimes during the Zuma era. This is also one of the likely reasons for a spike in South Africa’s murder rate.
The ISS and Corruption Watch made a number of recommendations to the Zondo Commission.
- These include competency and integrity assessments for senior managers in the SAPS, Hawks and crime intelligence. An audit should identify people who were irregularly appointed or promoted, or where they lack the required competence, experience and integrity.
- The anti-corruption investigation and prosecution capacities of criminal justice agencies should be strengthened, and a review should be conducted of the SAPS crime intelligence division to enhance its performance, transparency and accountability. Particular attention should be given to the crime intelligence secret service account, which appears to have been routinely abused.
- They also recommended new legislation to ensure greater transparency around the relationship between the executive and the senior leadership of criminal justice agencies, and asked for new mechanisms to ensure candidates for senior criminal justice positions are suitably qualified. Government should also provide an annual consolidated report on all investigations and prosecutions of corruption by officials in criminal justice agencies, and associated disciplinary measures.
- Political parties should also change their codes of conduct to ensure candidates facing questions about their integrity are regarded as unsuitable for political office until they can formally clear their names. They should no longer apply the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach.
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