When corruption happens in institutions that are supposed to uphold the rule of law, public trust is eroded. Report Corruption!
South Africans are well aware of how corruption has crept into every aspect of our lives and very often, its impact is most acutely felt in the delivery of the most basic of services.
Despite all the promises made, communities all over the country are often kept waiting for access to constitutionally mandated services such as education, food and water, and electricity – and also safety and security, as well as fair treatment from those in law enforcement.
Organisations like Corruption Watch hear first-hand accounts of how people are denied their rights to safety and security.
They hear of the abuse of official capacity for personal gain. They hear of brutality or violence towards individuals or communities. They hear of sexual assault by police officers whether on or off duty. They hear how corrupt police officers and others have diverted resources or used their positions to extract bribes on spurious grounds.
This has been especially evident during the lockdown periods implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19, where law enforcement officials have acted as though they are above the law. At times, their increased power has even posed a threat to ordinary citizens.
When corruption happens in institutions that are supposed to uphold the rule of law, public trust is eroded. Often, people feel defeated and lose the urge to fight or stand up against corrupt officers. Corruption in the police service exposes the public to high rates of crime and destabilises communities. Furthermore, fear and distrust of the police fuels crime, because people are reluctant to report it, thus granting immunity to criminals. It also widens the inequality gap in our society.
But what if you are able to identify abuse of power, and know what to do when a police officer asks for a bribe? If, in essence, you know your rights and where to report police corruption, the policing sector can be held accountable and public safety and security can be restored.
It is important to make citizens aware that they have rights, and that they don’t have to simply accept the consequences of corruption but can hold those responsible to account.
Fighting corruption starts with you!