On 8 March 2010 MCM officially announced that it has suspended (on full pay) three (senior) officials apparently caught stealing Norwegian taxpayers’ donor funds that were made available for fisheries management related projects in terms of the Norway-South Africa (NORSA) bilateral agreement.
The brief MCM press statement does not state who the officials are or what positions they hold or whether any of the NORSA funds were recovered or are considered recoverable. The statement does confirm that the alleged civil servant thieves simply transferred the funds from the MLRF into a private account apparently in the name of one of the alleged thieves.
MCM has confirmed that an internal disciplinary process is underway and the matter has been handed to the SAPS for criminal investigation. Unfortunately, MCM’s recent track record of dealing with corrupt staff may mean that this matter will simply get brushed under the carpet. If we recall, about two years ago it was alleged that certain personnel on board the patrol vessels were warning poachers of the vessels’ locations. After the public statement that an investigation would commence, there has been a deafening silence on the outcome of the investigation. Similarly, after it was exposed that a certain MCM staff member was soliciting members of the boat based whale watching industry for bribes in return for permits and he was caught on tape soliciting a bribe, the matter has simply faded away without any sanctions against the corrupt staff member. More recently in July 2009, Pam Yako, the former DG of environmental affairs, was suspended on full pay for allegedly siphoning off a mere R500 million in tax payers’ hard earned money. Whatever happened to her matter? Feike understands that she was relieved of her DG duties after being handed a wonderful “golden handshake”.
Perhaps that is why civil servants simply do not bother creating elaborate schemes to attempt to hide their theft of public funds. Afterall, what could be better than stealing the money; not being made to give it back; being suspended on full-pay for at least 12 months while you earn a second salary (on which you most certainly do not pay the mandatory 50% tax) and then getting a golden handshake so you can leave through the back door. If that is not an incentive to go on a wild public fund pilfering orgy, then you should be fired from the civil service for incapacity!

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