24 May 2011 | Angeline Albert
The South African government should be more proactive in prosecuting
cases of bribery, according to a TransparencyInternational (TI) study.
The annual progress report into national implementation of the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) anti-bribery
convention placed South Africa in a group of countries with “low enforcement”.
Even among these nations, South Africa undertook relatively few bribery
The OECD convention requires countries to make it a crime for domestic
firms to bribe foreign officials to win business. It has been adopted by 38
nations so far.
In 2010 there were no cases of bribery in other countries before the
South African courts, and just five investigations were ongoing. TI’s progress
report said criminal and corporate laws in the country were inadequate to hold
parent companies responsible for bribery by subsidiaries, agents and third
The South African Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations dropped
enquiries into allegations against two companies after evidence was
contaminated and said to continue would be a waste of public money.
TI’s report said there were not enough specialist foreign bribery
investigators and prosecutors in South Africa and more training should be
provided. It also highlighted inadequate co-ordination between police and prosecutors
and insufficient awareness in the public and private sectors about the offence
of foreign bribery and about protection for whistleblowers as further concerns.
The report said a clear weakness of the country’s legal framework is
that the Protected Disclosures Act, which offers protection for whistleblowers, does not extend to auditors, who are not
required to report suspected acts of bribery.