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09-05-2013: Joburg tipoffs lands 23 people in jail

Since the launch of anonymous anti-corruption tip-off hotline, Johannesburg City has seen a dramatic increase in the number of tipoffs from residents which led to police arrests, court conviction, and suspension of employees.

This arose from Johannesburg City Executive Mayor’s State of the City Address (SOCA) today (Thursday May 9, 2013).

The City is supported by an independent tipoffs line which operates 24 hours, seven-days a week and has been operating for eight months. An independent group, Corruption Watch, has also pledged its support to the City’s efforts to take anti-corruption head on.

The anti-corruption measurers include an independent anonymous toll-free tipoffs hotline, an email address, and fax-line in all the 11 official languages.

Since the establishment of the various platforms, the City has received 457 complaints. Complaints of the residents ranged from service delivery-related issues to illegal water and electricity connections. Balance of the complaints was on irregularities and allegations of fraud and corruption. Respective departments and Municipal Entities (ME) had to take appropriate corrective steps in all complaints reported to the tipoffs line.

Of the 457 reports generated:
• 44% related to illegal electricity connections, while only 2% related to illegal water connections
• 33% are calls that relate to allegations of fraud, corruption, theft and bribery; as well as procurement related irregularities 
• 21% related to human resources complaints and concerns
Calls that relate to allegations of fraud, corruption and other irregular activities are subjected to further investigations.

As a result, the City has started developing strategies to increase capacity for the forensic investigations unit.  The City is also working with the South African Police Services unit, The Hawks in some of the investigations.
• To date, 16 employees have been suspended and disciplinary action taken against these employees.  
• Four (4) employees resigned during this period, apparently to evade the disciplinary hearing or dismissal.  As a matter of course, employees found guilty of fraud and corruption following disciplinary action are dismissed. The also refers such matters to the police for further investigation. 
• Ten (10) employees have been arrested and five (5) of these are currently out on bail. 
• A further 38 employees are currently under investigation.
• A total of 23 criminal cases have been opened with the South African Police Service (SAPS).  Those implicated are both employees and members of the public who colluded in activities which led to action taken against them.  The City is following up on these cases on on-going basis as and when information implicating them is made available and verified.
In cases where employees are found to have conducted business with the City and other organs of State, the City is designing measures which will deal with their non-compliance with the supply chain management regulations. Such action will also align with requirements of National Treasury. 

The City set up the independent tipoff line after adopting a resolution with certain strategic interventions aimed at combatting fraud and corruption.  This was preceded by a previous resolution of re-establishing and repositioning forensic audit and investigations to become a group function with City-wide responsibility for providing leadership in the fight against crime. 

The strategic policy interventions agreed to by the Mayoral Committee included the adoption of:
• A city-wide anti-corruption and anti-fraud strategy 
• Establishment of a Mayoral Anti-Corruption Advisory Panel
• Setting-up of whistle-blowing mechanism by way of a centralised and independent 24-hour fraud hotline service (0800 002 587); which would include an email address (">; sms (32840) and a fax line (0800 00 77 88).  
• An anti-corruption and anti-fraud awareness campaign to mobilise City officials and citizenry; and
• The Mayoral media launch of the City of Johannesburg 24-hour fraud hotline. 

The City’s Group Assurance Services Department (JRAS) procured a service provider to manage its independent anonymous 24-hour tip-off fraud hotline. As a mitigation measure, fraud awareness workshops are conducted throughout the City, and there is now a concerted effort to conduct fraud risk assessments so that the City can put in place appropriate systems of controls to either prevent or detect incidents of fraud, corruption and theft.

The Executive Mayor launched the centralised independent fraud hotline service on the 24th October 2012. This was further strengthened with a whistleblowing mechanism which would be independently administered for the City’s core administration and its municipal entities. This will ensure that all tip-offs received are accurately captured in any of the 11 official languages. As a result, all members of the community will be able to have easy access to complain about wrongdoing. The independent administration of the tip-off hotline also enhances the City’s governance practices and oversight. 

Meanwhile, matters which have not been resolved to the satisfaction of customers within existing processes of the City, will be referred to an ombudsman in the near future. The ombudsman is expected to be appointed by September 2013 after completion of the city’s due processes.

Bylaws related to operations of an ombudsman are due to be presented to the Mayoral Committee in June (2013). This follows a public participation process which started in February 23 and completed on 16 March 2013. Final input submitted via email and handed at various city’s regional offices was received by March 29. After his/her appointment, the ombudsman will be able to appoint his own administrative office to assist him in his/her work.

An oversight structure consisting of eminent personalities, educationists and experts in certain fields of work, has been identified. This will be discussed and announced after consultations with the ombudsman. This move will further strengthen the independence of the ombudsman.