Pretoria - Government is serious about stamping out corruption in the housing delivery sector, and not just mouthing off slogans, says Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale.
"We take a very serious view - not just to mouth slogans about corruption and zero tolerance, but to take appropriate and effective steps to stamp it out, with dire consequences for those who are caught in the act," said the minister.
He said corruption was the curse of society, and must be stamped out without any equivocation, not matter at what level of society it takes place.
The Special Investigations Unit has brought to book more than 800 government officials who had houses and subsidies they should not have had. Five lawyers in the private sector have also been struck from the roll for corrupt activities associated with housing.
"More arrests are to follow. We are hot on the heels of identified companies involved in nefarious activities. We simply cannot allow people to turn the poor into a business. This is morally reprehensible," he said.
Explaining the impact of corruption, the minister explained that 40 000 houses countrywide had to be rectified or completely demolished as a consequence of bad workmanship.
"Sadly, two such houses have killed a woman and a 13-year-old child. Clearly, somebody must account," the minister said, referring to a 13-year-old boy, Sonwabile Dwili, who reportedly died when his mother's home in Burgersdorp in the Eastern Cape collapsed in July this year.
In another incident, two people were hospitalised and an unnamed woman died last year when her house collapsed in Amaotana, north of Durban. The woman was pregnant at the time.
"This situation clearly follows from questionable contracts and building standards, approved by government officials and implemented by the private sector," Sexwale said, adding that it takes two to corrupt.
He called on civil society and business to join hands with government in the fight
"We want to use the opportunity of this platform to make a special call to you, our stakeholders, for cooperation with this special audit."