Mailbox: Is it worth spending taxpayers’ millions to send corrupt politicians to jail?

The costs of corruption for taxpayers are never-ending, says BizNews community member George Gultig. In this piece, he highlights that even if the authorities successfully prosecute some big fish, we’ll be paying to keep them fed, clothed, exercised and watching television. BizNews welcomes contributions, including opinion pieces and letters. – Editor

By George Gultig* 

It might be old hat by now but then again the Zondo Commission hasn’t released any findings to date.

George Gultig

I have just finished reading The Bosasa Billions which deals with that corrupt company’s behavioural pattern of selling food to prisons, orange overalls for prisoners to wear, the supply of CCTV, TV systems, access control and even fencing.

I for one was always under the impression that South Africans revere and respect their aged but, if I am to believe what I have just read, it appears they have a far greater veneration for prisoners which, of course, may stem from the fact that the country’s martyr spent 30 years in custody.

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Interesting revelations in the book are that in the 2017/18 financial year it cost on average R133,805p.a. or R11,150p.m. to house just one prisoner of the 164,129 who were in custody in March 2018. Now if I allow the calculator in my PC to do the arithmetic for me this amounts to R1,8bn per month or R21,9bn per annum which to an ANC cadre used to dealing in billions is, I suppose, no big deal but if I convert it in real terms – R1,830,038,350.00 per month or R21,961,280,845.00 per annum – it’s a rather frightening sum of money to spend on offenders. If only part of it was spent on increasing pensions and grants paid to the aged and destitute it would alleviate their hardship quite considerably.

To make up the shortfall for housing prisoners could be outsourced to maintain our parks and suburban streets which are deteriorating by the day as a result of municipalities going bankrupt, and it would solve the problem of prisoners sitting around idly and watching telly and not contributing to their upkeep. Even if inmates were allowed to retain a portion of the income derived from out-sourcing a substantial sum would still be realized to reduce the cost of housing them.

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The monthly cost per person of R11,150.00 to house prisoners is phenomenally high if one takes into consideration what the poor have to live and survive on, and needs to be investigated.

Included in the cost is R224m so that each cell can be fitted with a TV set, yet investigations have brought to light that between 50 and 60 prisoners have to share one toilet and one shower. A report on conditions at state prisons begs the question –  what is the R11,150.00 p.m. actually spent on or, in whose pocket does it end?

Sadly, the department of correctional services is only one department in our government.

  • George Gultig describes himself as a retired SADF member and octogenarian trying to avoid the approaching stages of incoherence associated with dementia by keeping up with what’s happening in our country, for whom so many gave their lives. “The attached pic was taken in Jan 2019 aboard MSC Musica with the most beautiful mountain and city in the world as background.”
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