Sefura Matlala, a senior manager for Market Data Analytics at the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), encourages citizens to practice responsible whistleblowing to avoid putting their lives in danger.
“If people do not report corruption responsibly, they are putting their own lives in danger. When you report corruption and you start talking about it to your friends, you do not know who they will share that information with and you may end up being victimised,” she explained.
She added that reporting corruption responsibly means doing it anonymously.
“When they come to the SIU, they can trust us and they need to come with evidence to support their allegations. The SIU will then do its work,” she said.
Matlala said this to commemorate of the International Anti-Corruption Day, which is celebrated annually on 9 December to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.
As part of her job, Matlala and her team use historic data from previous investigations to predict the future. “We use predictive modeling, most importantly, as a strategy to advise government on mechanisms it can employ to prevent corruption from recurring. We want to see how we can prevent all these losses that our government is incurring,” she explained.
“We identify enablers of corruption, including things that were done in the past that enabled corruption to happen, and we want to see who (not a person but a position) was responsible for all that,” she added.
“We are a leading law-enforcement body to start using market data analytics, and it is exciting because the strategy of our organisation requires us to conduct data-led investigations, and our sub-unit is at the better position to enable that,” she said.
Strides made in the fight against corruption
Over the years, the SIU has made great strides to combat corruption and recover the monies in recent years.
An SIU trends and analysis performance reveals that the agency received and processed 235 proclamations between 1998 and 2023, with 31% of them at national government level, 34% at provincial government, 28% at local government and 8% in the State-owned Entities.
The most prominent allegations related to procurement irregularities (24%), nepotism/cronyism (16%), maladministration (11%), 10% bribery/fraud, and 10% contract/tender/irregularities.
The introduction of the Special Tribunal in 2019 has increased the rate of recoveries.
- Value of actual cash and/or assets recovered: R4.864 billion
- Value of contracts, administrative decisions/actions set aside/deemed invalid: R25.236 billion
- Value of potential losses prevented: R27.333 billion
“Combating corruption is everybody’s responsibility. It is not only the President’s or government’s responsibility,” said Matlala.
The agency recovers and prevents financial losses to the State caused by acts of corruption, fraud and maladministration.
Any evidence pointing to criminal conduct uncovered by the SIU is referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for further action.