State capture: So much looting, so many charges
There are more than enough laws that can be used to prosecute state capture culprits
A raft of legislation governing the protection of taxpayers’ money should be used against those who looted billions of rands from state coffers, including public servants, say experts.
“This country has enough laws to ensure state capture does not happen. They can all be used,” says Stellenbosch University’s faculty of law vice dean, Professor Geo Quinot.
With pressure mounting on police and prosecutors to take action, and a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture looming, academics and civil society organisations say time is of the essence to recover money allegedly stolen by the Gupta family and their business associates.
Various groups have laid charges of treason, extortion, corruption, money-laundering, racketeering, theft and fraud against dozens allegedly involved in the looting, including President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, and Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
Quinot said there were strong laws governing how public funds were spent, which could be used to hold the heads of government departments to account.
“A primary responsibility of accounting authorities across all state entities and bodies is to ensure good public financial management.
“It’s not just those who did the looting who can be targeted. There are laws which govern all public servants’ actions. Where irregular expenditure occurs, action must be taken … if public servants fail to report or take action, [this] can result in them being criminally charged.
“Not only can the Public Financial Management Act be used, but so too can laws which govern the public services administration.”David Lewis of Corruption Watch, which has been instrumental in bringing charges against those involved in state capture and has assisted the FBI in its investigation, said there were many who could and should be charged.
“It's not just the well known state capture players. There are many board members, company executives, auditors and SOE staff, both current and former, who need to be held to account.
“Given the extent of the looting, there is simply no end to the avenue of charges which can be brought against those responsible.”
Lewis said it was important that asset preservations, especially against those who would be pursued through civil action, were done quickly.
“Those involved know they are being hunted. They need to be stopped before they can get rid of their assets.”House of Lords peer and anti-apartheid activist Peter Hains, who revealed UK banks’ involvement in facilitating the Guptas’ laundering of an estimated R7-billion, said governments – especially in Washington, Paris, Berlin and Rome – needed to instruct their countries’ financial security agencies to track the money being looted from South Africa.
“What we are seeing is not just one form of corruption. There are multiple money-laundering schemes being run. The evidence of corrupt activities requires global action.”
Wayne Duvenhage, chairman of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, which has also laid charges against those accused of looting state coffers, said they had initially doubted the commitment of senior Hawks and NPA officials to deal with state capture, but a change in political leadership had changed their view.
“There is an appetite to start advancing these cases.”
He said those such as Zwane, Public Enterprises director-general Richard Seleke and Gupta associate and suspended Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh needed to be held to account.
“People like these need to be arrested and face time in court where they can explain their conduct.
“What you see happening now is great, but there are thousands more at a local level implicated, maybe not to the tune of R50-billion, but maybe R20-billion spread out over 200 cases. Those people have to face the music.”