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‘Wilful intent to steal from the public purse is unforgivable’

From the desk of the president.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: GCIS

The revelation in Parliament that thousands of public servants have been illegally receiving social grants every month shows we still have a long way to go towards instilling a culture of ethics in the public service.

Earlier this year, it was also found that around 16 000 employees on the government payroll were irregularly paid the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant. It is common knowledge that applicants with other sources of income do not qualify for this grant. It is also self-evident that those who receive an income from the state are not eligible to apply.

And yet they did. Some 17 000 people employed at national and provincial government submitted applications in a bid to top up their salaries with money meant for the poor. Given the extent of need in the country, one that our public servants know too well, this wilful intent to steal from the public purse is unforgivable.

Government is now stepping up its efforts to prevent this kind of abuse and act against anyone in the public service involved in wrongdoing.

This month, government launched a new Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit. The unit will build capacity within public bodies to institute disciplinary proceedings in cases of misconduct and cooperate with other organs of state in holding those responsible to account.

The unit will refer corruption cases to government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team and follow up with departments to ensure criminal cases involving public servants translate into disciplinary cases. Working with the multi-agency Fusion Centre, the unit will help identify employees in priority cases investigated by law enforcement authorities.

The unit will monitor the conduct of lifestyle audits of public service employees. Where departments identify corruption and unexplained wealth, the cases will be referred to the South African Police Service.

The new unit has already begun its work in earnest, helping to identify public servants involved in cases related to Covid-19 procurement, the special Covid-19 grant and Unemployment Insurance Fund fraud.

The cases of government officials referred by the Special Investigating Unit for disciplinary action will be monitored by the unit to assess their progress.

Another important aspect of the Unit’s work will be institutionalising ethics and integrity in the ranks of the public service. A few public servants have over the years taken the view that doing business with or unduly benefiting from the State is permissible for them, their friends and their families, provided there has been no illegality. We must do everything we can to change this attitude.

As we work to end corruption, there must be equal focus on inculcating ethical behaviour, because what may not necessarily be illegal can be unethical and unbecoming of a public servant.

The new unit will set norms and standards on ethics, integrity and conduct. It will also build the capacity of departments to discipline officials found guilty of misconduct. Last year more than 200 employees were trained as presiding officers and initiators.

Building an ethical, capable state continues to be a focus of this administration.

As a number of scandals involving public servants illegally benefiting from the state have shown, the process will be difficult and will take some time. We are nonetheless committed to stay the course.

A capable state is the foundation for the attainment of all our national priorities. Without improving accountability and promoting ethical conduct, none can be achieved.

The vast majority of our public servants are committed, law-abiding and ethical.

The task before us is to work together to root out those who are not, and correct the misconception that all those employed in government are either self-serving or corrupt.

As Public Service Month draws to a close, I call on all the men and women who serve our country every day to recommit themselves to the values of selflessness and service, and to recall that their conduct must at all times be both legal and ethical.

The establishment of this unit is another one of the ways that we are working to end corruption in government and indeed in all spheres of South African life.


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” this wilful intent to steal from the public purse is unforgivable.” And yet they are forgiven, redeployed, recycled, put on paid suspension etc etc and so it goes on.

He emphasised “unforgivable”, but there were some other words not contained in his statement by the looks of it like “prison”, “jail”, or “prosecution”. Where is the accountability for wilful actions? Completing the application for a grant is definitely a wilful action, its not like they found a coin on the pavement.

No overalls for cadres !!

@Cyril – Its only your ANC Cadres stealing! and looting!

unrelentlessly the looting carries on!

“in the land of the blind, POP EYE is King”

The usual pathetic Africa entitlement message from the corrupt ANC. Naughty naughty. Large scale fraud and stealing in not criminal or despicable but unforgivable and abuse .Oh wow.Useless fools.

Election Alert! Be prepared the usual overblown promises from all fronts … ANC, DA, EFF and a whole truckload of opportunists which will culminate in a tsunami wave of BS.

Agreed — buy toilet paper !!

Seems to me a whole lot of forgiving has been going on otherwise there would be a hundreds of big name ANC and EFF cadres sitting behind bars right now….

How about Mkize ,our ex health minister?? Cyril says it’s “water under the bridge” : unforgivable looks more like very forgettable:
There is simply no accountability !!

Have those 17000 government employees that criminally submitted their applications been fired?
Surely that is the message the president should be sending.

The word “unforgiveable” should not feature in this article. The words “accountable” and “repercussions” for the offending criminals should however be featured strongly.

I don’t understand. Why is a new government unit required to “institute disciplinary proceedings in cases of misconduct”? Every single time someone gets fingered or caught with their hand in the cookie jar, a new committee or investigate unit is brought onto its legs to slow down the process of justice, ensuring a lack of clarity and disarray in proceedings. In a formal work environment, as-is in government, there exists a structure (HR and Compliance) where if fraud is suspected, it is investigated. I am sure it is very easy to see who is a current state employee and who also received benefits from these schemes. Squirrel is completely uninterested in rooting out fraud and corruption. The entire government sector screams of maladministration and malfeasance across all levels. The rot has always started from the top.

The committee / investigative unit is set up to identify cadres for promotion to more senior positions with the ANC as they have shown that they have learnt the ANC ways. Just look at those who get senior positions in cabinet or who are appointed as ministers.

You are correct – squirrel is uninterested (or disinterested) in firing and jailing perpetrators of fraud and corruption (as he was during his previous post). I.m.o. it is part of the strategy to buy time (and create more jobs for loyal cadres) while the frog boiling pot continues to simmer. One day when almost all the frogs have disappeared so will have the problem. All will happily continue to feed from the trough – albeit a far lot less. Then the fighting of the scarps will begin earnestly.

“Willful intent to steal”????

What nonsense.

Makes it sound as though at times the plunder happens SOMEHOW unintentional???

Whahahahahaaaaaa!!! Only this lot and its leader can dream up such rubbish.

TSK!!! Hahahahaaaaaa!!

I see what you doing there Cyril: “The unit will refer corruption cases to government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team and follow up with departments to ensure criminal cases involving public servants translate into disciplinary cases.”

No, no, no Cyril 16 000 public servants stole from the public purse – all of them through Fraud. 1000 more tried stealing through Fraud but were not succesful. Therefore 17 000 public servants must be fired TODAY because of theft and corruption and criminal cases opened up for every one of them….not the other way round. And you need to build more prisons, you are going to need them as in yesterday. Every one of these need to go to prison. And all MP’s involved with the Travelgate scandal as well.

The only hope for us is that the Western Cape will become independent.

Mr. President,

This is simple. Deduct the funds from their pay. Then you can lecture about ethics.

Not only deduct the funds. Someone stole, someone needs to be fired and prosecuted and sent to jail!

He can’t as the ANC don’t even have money to pay them !!


Cyril old chap, you are making a mess of this very simple situation. Again.

Pick up your phone and issue immediate instructions that
1) all these hardwired criminals are summarily dismissed and
2) sent home without without pay.
3) Freeze their pensions.
4) Cancel their medical benefits.
5) Hand their names over to the police for prosecution for fraud.

These are probably many of the same people who are facilitating the widespread corruption that you keep promising to eradicate. Walk the talk.

No enquiries.
No special units.
No excuses.
No special pleading.
No innocent until proven guilty

This is a chance to trim the ranks of state employees without cost. No severance packages. No protracted union negotiations. For once, do the right thing as you have been promising for so long

Not enough jails. And not enough honest people to do what you said.

If that’s the case when is Zweli Mkhize going to be charged? Don’t hold your breath!

Yeah, whatever King Nothing

Another thing.

I would wager that this practice is not confined to state employees. In other words it is quite likely that like minded employees in the private sector are also carrying out this type of fraud by claiming government grant benefits to which they are not entitled.

Government should follow this up with big private sector employers. A data base comparison and / or simple identity number based forensic check is bound to expose more fraudsters. Start with one or two of the big banks or retailers

Let’s face it Cyril you have set the example at the top by the way you recycle dodgy ministers. Maybe you should start those ethics courses at the top as well. Also how about setting up a special prosecution unit and courts to deal with those cases. There’s plenty of evidence before the Zondo commission.

Dear Cyril. What is “unforgivable” is what you did in Marikana.

clueless. He thinks if I talk about it, it will go away.

These government workers are playing follow the leader! The system enabled them to take what did not belong to them. Their superiors do not have time to monitor state expenses. They too are preoccupied with similar schemes. The same system enabled their leader to become a billionaire by expropriating the assets of other people through a scheme of glorified plunder. The South African criminal justice system, from the legislator to the prison guard, has been designed to enable and reward plunder.

The system incentivizes everyone to plunder the shared resources before his comrade can do so. It is a socialist race to the bottom now. They have even glorified this process of plunder by wrapping it in cheap and hollow social redress, empowerment, and racism.

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” – Frederic Bastiat “The Law” 1850


The anc now needs “paid for” religious leaders, traditional leaders, youth leaders and all other paid for “leaders” to support them.

Its really bad when the “leadership” thinks this is smart???

Yet??? da people keep voting for da thieves!!

It’s not bad enough yet. People need to suffer a bit more. Or a bit longer. Stupidity DEMANDS it. AMANDLA!!!

Hahahhaa. these people. SHAME!

Sensei, given that Bastiat’s quote could be equally applied to the Pre-94 regime, I sometimes wonder, if our Post-94 masters are simply following lessons learnt? Certainly the Constitution was written in such a way as to allow for this plunder. Perhaps I’m too cynical? Whatever the case, this will not resolve the “heart rot” which plagues the nation. Farmers will know, that when infected its very difficult to eradicate without felling the tree and more often than not, the whole plantation.

Can the Government Disciplinary Code that governs the employment relationship between the Government and the implicated employees be published in order for the citizens to measure the steps taken against those implicated?

When I initially saw the topic of this article, the immediate thought that came to me was: SARS…

What am I missing, you ask? The President should have just winked; then we would have been extra assured, that he is serious.

It may be UNFORGIVABLE but there are ABSOLUTELY NO CONSEQUENCES, especially if you are an ANC cadre. So the looting will continue.

How about EWC for wilful theft??

As long as ANC voters condone corruption, nothing will change sadly.

End of comments.





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