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Corruption Watch annual report shows these two sectors accounted for more than 60% of complaints last year. From Moneyweb.

Abuse of power appears rife at every level, and ‘lack of accountability for the state capture culprits’ further weakens ‘confidence’ in the system. Image: Moneyweb

Of the 2 110 corruption complaints received by Corruption Watch last year, 38% related to mining and 23% to policing.

After that came business at 16%, basic education at 12% and state-owned entities at 11%, says the Corruption Watch 2023 annual report, released on Wednesday.

“These figures speak to government’s failure to provide basic services and rights such as efficient policing, safety and security, access to decent employment, education, and services intended to improve people’s lives – a functioning power utility or proper transport services come to mind,” according to the report.

The predominant types of corruption noted by Corruption Watch in 2023 were maladministration, accounting for 34% of reports, followed by fraud (21%), employment irregularities (16%), bribery or extortion (15%) and procurement irregularities (13%).

The provinces with the highest number of complaints are Gauteng (37%) and KwaZulu-Natal (19%).

In Gauteng, fraud, bribery and extortion are the primary sources of complaints. In KwaZulu-Natal, it is maladministration.

Source: Corruption Watch 2023 annual report


Public trust in the South African Police Service (SAPS) was at a disturbingly low 26%, based on an Afrobarometer survey covering the years 2011 to 2021. The survey showed that trust in the SAPS has declined by about half over the past decade.

Nor is there any reason to believe that things have improved in the last two years. The latest crime stats released in February 2024 show a 2.1% increase in murders over the previous year, a 12.9% increase in attempted murders and disturbing increases in assaults against women (up 7%) and children (up 11.9%).

Corruption Watch introduced a tool called Veza in 2021, allowing the public to report instances of corruption among the police, particularly cases of corruption, abuse of power, and maladministration.

The types of corruption reported on Veza include dereliction of duty (40.4%), abuse of power (31%), bribery attempt or solicitation (26.7%) and sextortion (1.9%).


The types of corruption in mining range from poor or no consultation with communities by mining companies and local authorities to broken promises of upliftment and weak governance structures.

Corruption Watch cites the case of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality in the Free State, where houses previously maintained by Harmony Gold have been allowed to deteriorate now that responsibility for maintenance falls to the local municipality.

Wastewater in the nearby Voelpan Dam is spilling into residential areas, with claims that Harmony Gold had allegedly discharged wastewater into the dam since 2019.

In other areas, communities are forced to put up with blasting, dust pollution and flying rocks.

Another common problem is that mines’ social and labour plans (SLPs), which are supposed to augment municipal plans, are instead being used by municipalities to fund their own plans.

Additionally, mining operations are sometimes being allowed to proceed without the requisite community engagement.

Read: Can SA turn the tide against corruption?

“Where [community] forums or committees are established, they may lack formal processes like a constitution by which the forum is run, or their powers may be abused by the occupants of those positions, who then gatekeep on important processes like recruitment of labour for the mine,” says the report.

“They may also simply fail in the basic duty of relaying the concerns of the most marginalised in the community.

“It is in such conditions that corruption and the lapse of accountable mechanisms emerge.”


Corruption Watch highlighted the case of tech company EOH, which was extensively investigated by the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture.

EOH, under new management, cooperated with the Zondo Commission and provided valuable insights into how private sector companies corrupted state procurement processes.

These insights have been widely studied by researchers and other companies with a view to improving their own governance practices.

Election will be a poll against corruption

The upcoming 2024 general elections are seen by many as a poll against corruption, says Corruption Watch chair Themba Maseko.

“Democracy means more than exercising the right to vote. Citizens cannot afford to outsource their future to a handful of elected individuals and not hold them accountable for addressing the crises that are engulfing our country.”

The government’s tardy response and pace in addressing citizen concerns on corruption is fuelling the perception that no one cares.

“For example, the process of implementing the recommendations of the Zondo Commission is moving at a snail’s pace,” says Maseko.

Executive director of Corruption Watch Karam Singh adds that SA’s standing internationally has fallen, as reflected in the Corruption Perceptions Index, where SA slipped from its global ranking of 72 in 2022 to 83 in 2023.

Read: SA hits new low for corruption – Transparency International [Jan 2024]

“While South Africa has moved out of an era of formal state capture, the worry is that the system remains fundamentally vulnerable to further such projects and grand corruption,” says Singh.

“Lack of accountability for the state capture culprits of the Zuma era further weakens confidence in the system.”

There were some gains on the legislative front, with Corruption Watch providing inputs and recommendations to:

  • The Public Procurement Bill;
  • The National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Act;
  • The Companies Amendment Bill; and
  • The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Control Regulations.

It also made recommendations on the Political Party Funding Act to the National Advisory Council Against Corruption.