by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – AN executive believes technology can be a powerful tool against the fraud and corruption plunging South Africa’s municipalities and businesses into financial crisis.
Ryan Mer’s suggestion follows a recent report in the media of a former OR Tambo District Municipality project accountant, who defrauded the municipality out of R9,8 million (US$680 220) and was recently sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Another report details how nine people allegedly defrauded the City of Tshwane out of R53m in December 2019 when the city’s servers were allegedly hacked.
“Cases like these have become all too common, an indication of the troubling severity of the problem,” said Mer, the Managing Director of Eftsure, a payee platform provider.
Mer also noted that last year alone, more than 100 people, many of whom in the employ of provincial and municipal government at the time, were arrested for their involvement in various fraud and corruption scandals.
“Worryingly for the private sector, the global Cyber Exposure Index ranks SA sixth on its list of most-targeted countries for cyber attacks, with the highest concentration of exposed businesses.”
At a broad level, rampant fraud and corruption signify a financial crisis for South Africa’s local and municipal government.
National Treasury has described the problem as ‘a serious financial risk.’
South Africa’s Auditor General put the losses to fraud in the 2018/2019 financial year at R32 billion.
“While figures in the billions are almost unfathomable, the grim reality is that the poorest and most vulnerable in our society are affected most by the misuse of public funds,” Mer said.
Fraud prevents basic services in communities and renders the provision of new infrastructure nearly impossible.
“Successful municipalities are essential for the country’s success, which is why every tool at our disposal should be used to address the problem,” Mer advised.
– CAJ News