ISSUE 15 | 2016
Most of you should be aware of the events of Thursday, 29 September, when 26 people were arrested in Bloemfontein on charges relating to fraud, bribery and corruption, in a joint operation by law enforcement agencies and our Counter- Corruption branch.
Of the 26 people arrested, 20 were Home Affairs officials.
Later, on the same day still, 2 colleagues were nabbed by the Department’s Eagles (Counter-Corruption Unit) and the Hawks at Lindela Repatriation Centre.
I will not restate all of the details here, as you will have received the media statement on the matter through Internal Communications.
All in all, Operation Bvisa Masina launched on 24 July 2015 has led to the successful arrest of about 83 people, most of them officials and others being non- officials.
Thursday’s operations both at Maseru Bridge and Lindela have taken these figures to 111, all in just one year!
However, there are three points I want to emphasize to Home Affairs staff in relation to this.
Firstly, our campaign against corruption is not about targeting individuals for reasons other than corruption.
The objective of our counter-corruption efforts is simple: anyone and everyone at Home Affairs who commits fraud and corruption should be rooted out of the Department, without fear or favour.
If you are innocent, you have nothing to worry about. I cannot be clearer than this.
We have previously consistently underlined our zero tolerance towards corruption, bribery and fraud, regardless of whichever quarter it comes.
Secondly, Thursday’s operation is a continuation of the counter- corruption efforts I have prioritized since assuming my duty as Minister in May 2014.
Since then, I have communicated a clear message to officials.
I have communicated to you in person in my formal visits to provinces (all but North West and Western Cape), at internal workshops, public events and letters to staff.
I have been clear that Home Affairs plays a critical role in the country and, therefore, our officials must be professional, ethical and committed to their task.
This is non-negotiable.
I have said that those officials who embrace this mission will do well, and that small minority who engage in corruption and act in bad faith, will find it increasingly difficult.
Corrupt officials ignore this clear warning at their peril. They make a choice to imperil their jobs.
With every choice one makes, there are consequences.
Thirdly, I want to congratulate and thank our Counter-Corruption branch – our proud and hard-working Eagles – for their tireless efforts to assist us root corruption out of our Department.
Counter-Corruption plays a critical role in rooting out those officials who give Home Affairs a bad name.
When members of the public talk about ‘Home Affairs officials’, we want this phrase to be synonymous with professionalism, with being upstanding, with selflessness and commitment to excellence.
Those who see their jobs as an opportunity to line their own pockets rather than serve the people of South Africa undermine all of our hard work.
So I sincerely want to thank Counter-Corruption officials for diligently going about their work, which can be a thankless task.
Congratulations on this successful operation! Please continue to act with urgency and diligence to catch out corrupt officials.
Be vigilant. Be fair. Be ruthless. Be unapologetic.
Citizens have high expectations for our Government.
They rightly demand a capable and developmental state promised to them and called for by the National Development Plan.
At the same time, government resources are constrained. Home Affairs is historically underfunded and we are making the case to Treasury, Cabinet and the resident that we need significant resources to effectively fulfil our critical role to the nation.
Earlier this year, Cabinet took a decision to include Home Affairs in the Security Cluster, out of acknowledgment of the importance of our work in securing the nation, by managing immigration effectively and as the national custodian of identity.
For all of these reasons, we must be trustworthy.
Be the professional, ethical, committed, new cadre of Home Affairs official I know you can be.
Minister of Home Affairs