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Ramaphosa: Attempting to profit from a disaster is the action of scavengers

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, the president said those responsible for siphoning state funds would be dealt with decisively and harshly.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on 23 July 2020. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has once again expressed concern about rampant corruption during the state of national disaster to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said those responsible for siphoning state funds would be dealt with decisively and harshly.

He said it was “difficult to understand the utter lack of conscience that leads a businessperson who has heeded the call to provide lifesaving supplies during a devastating pandemic to inflate the price of a surgical mask by as much as 900%”.

“Nor can one explain why a councillor would stockpile emergency food parcels meant for the poor for their own family, or why another councillor would divert water tankers en route to a needy community to their own home.

“It is impossible to discern what drives an entire family whose member stole funds meant for unemployed workers to go on a spending spree, buying cars, paying for renovations and beauty treatments, and even tombstones,” Ramaphosa said.

The president added that attempting to profit from a disaster that was claiming many lives was the action of scavengers.

“It is like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey,” he said. “As we find ourselves in the grip of the greatest health emergency our country has faced in over a century, we are witnessing theft by individuals and companies with no conscience.”

Ramaphosa also said he would receive interim reports every six weeks on the cases at various stages of investigation and prosecution, saying when investigations yielded evidence of criminality, they would be speedily referred for prosecution.

“We will not allow public funds hard-earned by loyal taxpayers or donations by patriotic companies and individuals and the international community to vanish down a black hole of corruption.

“Those found to have broken the law to enrich themselves through this crisis will not get to enjoy their spoils, regardless of who they are or with whom they may be connected,” he said.

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