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A bitter pill it is, but there are sound reasons for gi...

South Africa


A bitter pill it is, but there are sound reasons for giving amnesty to alleged State Capture wrongdoers

Former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo) | Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Lucky Nxumalo) | Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander)

Now, after the Zondo Commission has completed its work with the publication of its final report, the question is: Where to from here? As one answer, we consider that it is high time to readdress the amnesty controversy.

In March 2020, we proposed that South Africa consider adopting a conditional amnesty process for those who committed acts of corruption during the era of State Capture. Our full article, previously published in Daily Maverick, together with a shorter version, can be accessed here.

A corruption amnesty would help South Africa escape the bonds of State Capture

The publication of the article coincided with a Daily Maverick panel discussion at which the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) professed shock that, at a stage where arrests and effective prosecutions were imminent, we were proposing a way out for those implicated in grand-scale corruption. After the panel discussion there were some fairly harsh, but in our view misconceived, criticisms of the proposal. There was also welcome support for the notion of amnesty from some commentators, most recently, the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Ian Donovan.

The debate on an amnesty proposal then went largely silent, no doubt because of the diversion of attention and resources to the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement restrictions brought by the lockdowns we endured. Significantly, the pandemic exposed the indiscriminate grand-scale corruption embedded in our society in relation, this time around, to the public procurement of, among other things, personal protective equipment (PPE). This contributed to the long-awaited need to take decisive action against fraud and corruption and it added further billions of rands lost to corruption due to corruption and State Capture.

Now, after the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture (the Zondo Commission) has completed its four-year work with the publication of its final report, the question is: Where to from here? As one answer, we consider that it is high time to readdress the amnesty controversy.

The corruption problem, and why amnesty?

In our previous article, we highlighted that corruption had become a widespread, endemic phenomenon in South Africa, with a profoundly corrosive effect on our country’s political and economic landscape. We estimated that the economic impact of corruption perpetrated by the upper echelons of government all the way through to everyday government officials had cost the country hundreds of billions of rands.

Our views as to the pervasive extent of corruption were confirmed by the Zondo Commission’s findings on the scale of the State Capture project. The commission’s report contains a host of recommendations, including the further investigation and prosecution of well-known political bigwigs and businesspeople.

But, where to from here? There is a range of potential answers to this question, and the Zondo Commission’s report suggests a few. Two of the most important of these are:

  1. The investigation and prosecution of the alleged wrongdoers identified in the report (to deal with past and present wrongdoers); and
  2. The establishment of an independent permanent Anti-State Capture Commission (a forward-looking solution to prevent a similar problem from arising in the future).

We suggest that another solution is an amnesty process that would entail both the disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and full disclosure of wrongdoing.

While the report deals with a wide range of topics and numerous individuals, the corruption problem is, we suggest, far broader and certainly not limited only to the individuals implicated in the report.

Indeed, the extent of corruption in South Africa extends from those who have occupied the highest positions in government, to the State Capture foot soldiers who implemented, perpetuated and (undoubtedly) benefited from various corrupt acts. The Zondo Commission simply could not, and should not have been expected to, expose the full extent of State Capture in South Africa and the sheer number of individuals who are implicated, and because this would have entailed the commission’s work stretching into decades, it did not deal with the pervasiveness of corruption and State Capture at the municipal level.

The most problematic aspect of systemic corruption is that it becomes a default social and cultural norm which infects even those who would otherwise be honest citizens. Once a sociopolitical culture of corruption is prevalent, it becomes almost impossible to eradicate by conventional methods (for example, the enactment of anti-corruption laws or the establishment of institutions to investigate and prosecute corrupt activities).

Given the sheer volume of perpetrators and the intricate web of crimes committed, it appears that the state institutions responsible for the investigation and prosecution of corruption in South Africa lack the means or capacity to fulfil their role of bringing corruption kingpins to justice.

South Africa needs the means to counter a pervasive sociopolitical culture of corruption, decrease its overwhelming and paralysing number of corrupt individuals and corrupt acts, and establish a means to instil a widespread change in mindset.

Drawing on the theoretical justification for amnesties (as a means of transforming from an undesirable set of circumstances, such as systemic corruption, to a more desirable one), and the experience of Hong Kong in the 1970s as well as other successful instances of amnesties in both South Africa and abroad, we have proposed an amnesty for corruption as a potential means of achieving that end. Our aim is not to repeat the justification for the proposal, but rather to reignite the debate and to highlight a potential broad framework for how an effective process of corruption amnesty could be implemented in South Africa.

How could amnesty for corruption be implemented?

We recognise that establishing a constitutionally compliant, legitimate and publicly supported amnesty process would be hard work. It would require extensive public, political and parliamentary debate, together with carefully crafted and comprehensive legislative enactments. Although this will be an immensely difficult task, it is certainly achievable, as past experience in South Africa (in different contexts) and international jurisdictions has demonstrated.

Without in any way being exhaustive or prescriptive, we believe that a corruption amnesty in South Africa could be implemented by considering the following elements of the proposed amnesty:

  1. Amnesty should be conditional on full disclosure of all of each applicant’s corrupt activities as well as the parties/co-perpetrators involved;
  2. Individuals who are not fully forthcoming regarding the extent of their crimes, the other individuals involved, or are later demonstrated to have either provided misleading evidence, lied or not made full disclosure, should not be granted amnesty or have their amnesty revoked;
  3. All aspects of the proposed amnesty process ought to be extensively debated at both public and parliamentary levels. Issues to be debated include:
    (i) the conditions required to be fulfilled for amnesty to be granted to an applicant,
    (ii) whether or not the amnesty process is private or public, and
    (iii) the duration for which amnesty is available.
    This is essential to ensure both the legitimacy of and public support for the amnesty process and could be facilitated by a call for public comment. As we have expressed previously, we believe that a private amnesty process would probably provide greater incentive to potential applicants to make full disclosure of their corrupt acts and expose other parties involved than a public process may be able to achieve;
  4. The body implementing and conducting the amnesty should be independent, staffed by professionals (including experts from abroad), above reproach with no hint of party or person affiliations and not in any way connected to any currently existing state body;
  5. The confessions, records, evidence and other relevant information established through the amnesty process should be provided to the relevant prosecution authorities, and it should be a condition for amnesty that the relevant applicant consent to this; and
  6. Apart from the disgorgement of profits, a range of potential penalties for corrupt acts should be made available. A corruption amnesty should not amount to a get-out-of-jail-without-consequences card.

Where to from here?

The prospect of amnesty for corruption in South Africa undoubtedly remains a bitter pill to swallow. The desire of ordinary citizens to see those who corruptly abused and exploited the public office they had been entrusted with face the full might of the law and criminal punishment fitting their crimes is entirely justified. However, since we first proposed the possibility of an amnesty for corruption, and despite the increasingly loud call for perpetrators to “start donning orange overalls” and promises of prosecutions from state institutions charged with that mandate, we are still unaware of any perpetrator associated with the State Capture project having been jailed, or of any real recovery of misappropriated public funds.

If anything, the position worsened during the pandemic. Thus, it is not surprising that in a recent interview, Thuli Madonsela warned South Africans to question whether the era of State Capture is really over.

Rather than our being content with the increasingly forlorn hope that the NPA will one day have the capacity to prosecute the entire cast of corrupt actors, we propose a more drastic approach to escape the traps of State Capture. That is not to say that prosecutions and other means of combating corruption, such as further amendments to, or enactments of new legislation or bodies (such as an anti-corruption commission) have no role to play. On the contrary, the potential for prosecutions is a necessary prerequisite for the success of a proposed amnesty process. The prospect of prosecution would provide the requisite incentive for perpetrators to come forward, and the investigation and subsequent prosecution of those who are not forthcoming or do not fully disclose the extent of their wrongdoing or the parties involved would probably further incentivise those implicated.

Moreover, the establishment of a permanent anti-corruption commission, as is proposed in the Zondo Commission’s report, which is mandated to continuously investigate and expose instances of alleged corruption and State Capture, provides a potentially effective means of ensuring that the necessary safeguards are in place to ensure that the country does not spiral down the same tunnel of corruption in the future.

We have written this piece in the hope that, rather than continuing to plod along the plainly ineffective general “prosecute them all” route, alternative pragmatic and effective methods of eradicating corruption will be debated and one day will form part of the efforts to climb out of the dark well of the years of corruption that our country fell into. DM

Robert Appelbaum is a partner at Webber Wentzel. Advocates Gavin Rome SC and Sechaba Mohapi are members of Group One Advocates and the Johannesburg Bar. Ryan Hopkins is an attorney of the High Court of South Africa. The views expressed in this article are the views of the authors and do not represent the views of the partners of Webber Wentzel.


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All Comments 67

  • For such an amnesty to work, and to not be a ‘get out of jail without consequences’ card, the consequences should be spent out, clearly. I assume the authors have built out their case, elsewhere, but to my mind the most fundamental consequence, apart from ‘pay back the money’ is to never work in any sphere of government again, at any level, ever. Not in an elected position, not as a civil servant, not in an SOE, not in any Chapter 9 institution. The consequences of your actions, instead of going to jail, must be that you have no access to state resources, anywhere.

    • At bare minimum. I also suggest a name and shame policy that is repeated every year for 20 years (about how ling state capture has been going on). Any family members of the accused that are living beyond their means need to be lifestyle audited and if found with stolen money face consequences. And the very big guys on the top of the mafia should not be allowed amnesty at all. Middle management and lower only if they are clearly name those whose orders they followed.

  • I don’t know. It seems to me that there is a principle at stake here. The principle of there being a consequence for those who break the law. An amnesty would break that principle. At the risk of setting a precedent for endless more amnesties.

    The inevitable counter-argument to the above is to draw comparison with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And the resulting amnesties granted to those who committed crimes prior to the 1994 transition to democracy. To me no such comparison is valid. The crimes committed prior to 1994, for which amnesty was granted, were crimes of violence. They were about fighting for or against the apartheid regime. These crimes were not about self-enrichment at the expense of the poor.

    Those now implicated in state capture are thieves. They can claim no political or moral justification for their crimes. They broke the law. They must now face the consequences.

  • You must be out of your mind!! All you are doing is rewarding the most wayward, depraved and odious thieves, who don’t give a damn about this country, its well-being, it’s people and it’s poor. Whilst charging them may bring about a certain amount of chaos as we are witnessing now by these REThieves, a line has to be drawn, an example made and justice delivered. Letting these scumbags off sends the wrong message that crime does pay and only the most severe penalties will deter future theft and corruption. By that I mean long prison terms with no special treatments, as we have witnessed with Zuma, Shaik etc and the total seizure of all their ill-gotten assets etc. At the same time, the Hawks, NPA, SIU etc must be strengthened and resourced properly to take the fight to these degenerates. YOU DO THE CRIME, YOU DO THE TIME! No one has forced these thieves to steal – it was deliberate, well planned and executed!

    • This is the only possible solution. We have no idea of the depth of corruption at provincial and municipal levels (will utterly escape Zondo consequences, at present). This will flush it it. It will return (some) money to state coffers. Perpetrators would have to suffer being named to avoid prosecution. Private industry will definitely step up and admit their role (which is mostly hidden now). If this is not done in the current crop of big crooks will fight this in court for the next 15 years, like Zuma did. This is wise and practical solution, because charging 10 big shots will achieve literally nothing.

    • I agree. Add resources to the institutions responsible to bring these criminals in front of the courts. It’s simply not justifiable to allow the lowest of the low who have caused so much misery, stolen the futures of so many of their kin and flaunt their ill gotten gains without a shadow of guilt, to get off with what can only be described as a slap on the wrist.

  • It makes sense but people were given amnesty at the TRC and then didn’t confess or reveal all. Not much happened to the ones who didn’t apply for amnesty. I would agree with an amnesty if: the ill-gotten gains were really recovered, they were then black-listed for any directorship or government job, and they exposed corruption by others. This should be juxtaposed by exhaustive investigations and long jail sentences without parole: 5 years should mean 5 years. Part of the seized assets could go toward funding investigators and pro bono work from advocates should be actively sought. It took decades to weaken the mafia, so prepare for the long haul.

  • I for one agree wholeheartedly.

    All South Africans need to acknowledge that with the prevailing socio economic conditions in 1994 the stage was set impeccably – corruption was inevitable.

    It is time to cut our losses, turn our gaze from the rear view mirror, and embrace our future as a nation.

      • Yes you can.

        For a moment put yourself in a suppressed person’s shoes and imagine coming from nothing, having no money, and having virtually no education (directly attributable to the stupidity of apartheid) and suddenly as a politician finding you have unfettered access to unlimited funds and unlimited power.

        Now imagine you have sociopathic tendencies and an uneducated voter base (directly attributable to apartheid) who are easily swayed by money and power.

        There can be only one logical outcome outrageous corruption.

        • Cannot agree with that. Our politicians have had near unfettered unaccountable power for many years, coupled with high salaries and huge perks. Coming from poverty in the past does not excuse criminal behavior, nevermind near mafia style organized corruption to the detrimental of your fellow poor men and women. The kind of excuses you are giving are exactly why we are where we are.

          • If you bake a bad cake that’s usually what you get. And no, it likely doesn’t taste great.

    • Judgements in a court of law are based on legal precedent. You are basically giving anyone who in the future steals State funds a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card. Not a good idea!

      • I’m also not sure where your reference to “future” stems from – what DM is referring to is a one time amnesty for things already done that will allow our country to move forward. The first win is that those who currently have no choice but to fight any form of improvement because they know they are guilty and need to stay out of jail will no longer be compelled to do so. The second win is that because of their public admissions to the amnesty commission they will very likely be sidelined permanently, rendering them ineffectual.

        Both of which will allow South Africa to move forward.

  • This is a very sensible suggestion. We are all angry at state capture and the people who facilitated it but perhaps, rather than assuage our desire for some form of retribution, it is more pragmatic to support some form of amnesty. In order for such a process to be effective, however, the state of mind of each of the applicants should surely also need to be considered? Without evidence of real remorse or contrition on their part, such a process would feel like just another cynical attempt to avoid the consequences of their behaviour. Who would lead such a commission with the necessary integrity? I miss the Archbishop!

    • One can’t get remorse and contrition from those who are guilty but deny it. They’ve robbed us blind without any consideration for the effect it has on all of us. And you want remorse and contrition? Those words don’t exist in the dictionary of any of the “alleged wrongdoers”.

    • With proper consequences (like others have suggested… return stolen funds, no access ever to similar positions, etc., it doesn’t really matter about the contrition. It’s immaterial.

  • Like most pills this might be a bitter one to swallow. Yet how else are we to get the scum to the surface given the limits on the prosecutorial system and pervasiveness of graft. It should be possible to make such an amnesty structure become self-funding given the amounts pilfered.

    Of course, given the status quo many culprits might be willing to take their chances with the NPA.

  • I am of the opinion that, as much as it would give onlookers a large degree of satisfaction in seeing perpetrators dressed in orange jump suits, granting amnesty as outlined in the article would achieve a good deal of recovery of stolen monies and save the state the expense of running the innumerable trials that may result from prosecutions.
    On reflection, I am strongly in favour of this proposed course of action.

  • And this amnesty will stop corruption? It will not. Look at how the top crooks are shamelessly posturing. I understand that the prosecutors might have their hands full, but that is not a valid reason for an amnesty. Every single person implicated by Zondo must feel the full might of the law. All money must be paid back, even if it means they lose everything they have. Once the example has been made, you can offer an amnesty. That’s the ‘incentive’ we need, not some pussyfooting sorry-to-prosecute-you nonsense.

  • The architecture of the social contract needs to be revised. It creates the ability for corruption to exist. Everyone has a right to exist but the current architecture of the social contract and democracy, allows for the reality of imposing corrupt officials on us… as can be so obviously seen. The architecture needs revising to be accepted, not by the majority, but by all, unanimously without exception and without coercion. That architecture that removes the need for national elections, it needs to allow for even corrupt and dishonest people to exist, but they must only be able to affect those that share the same values that they purport to represent, and no one else. A architecture that forces politicians to productive, and lawyers to be purveyors of justice. Unethical lawyers and politicians the root of virtually all our social ills…

  • Dear Authors. I applaud your suggestions. If we keep pursuing a blind need for punishment or revenge we may just fuel our own and others resentments. Society does not advance in that way. A critical and compassionate approach, as can easily be incorporated into what you suggest, seems infinitely wiser and can contribute to growing a culture of respect and honesty.

  • Thought provoking indeed, and once you get past the headline, it certainly deserves very serious consideration. How about including it as a referendum question at the next election?

  • Never. If I get amnesty on my taxes paid over the same period we can discuss the matter. Otherwise over my dead body. Never.

    • There’s an opportunity here to be creative, for example: for every x billion Rand of recovered loot via an amnesty process, reduce VAT by y%; and something similar for the fuel levy. This way the poor – which suffers most from state capture – will directly and tangibly benefit from amnesty.

  • “We suggest that another solution is an amnesty process that would entail both the disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and full disclosure of wrongdoing.”

    This is where I see the fatal flaw in the writers’ proposals. The ill-gotten gains have largely been squandered in the “live-for-today” lifestyle of these crooks who believed that the fountain of taxpayer money will never dry up. So besides the odd offshore investment, immovable palaces and bling motor cars which nobody will buy, what retribution is there besides lengthy prison sentences?

    If there are to be no punitive consequences but a literal “get-out-of-jail” amnesty, what is there to prevent this from ever happening again?

  • The biggest load of rubbish I have ever read. If you seriously think the corrupt orgainized crime syndicate (aka ANC) are going to suddenly stop corruption because you absolved them of their previous wrong doings, you are smoking your socks. They undoubtedly will see this as vindication that they are untouchable and take it as a license to reset and start again.
    A far greater deterrent against future corruption would be the sight of a some high profile “untouchables” in orange overalls.

  • It is a forlorn hope that our courts could ever successfully prosecute the major players.
    We have neither the manpower nor the ability to bring the corrupt to trial and a special “Amnesty Commission” along the lines of the TRC makes a lot of sense provided that amnesty is linked to a painful financial penalty requiring the amnesty seeker to “pay back the money”.
    It would be very satisfying to see the known corrupt remanded in custody without bail pending either a trial or an application for amnesty but it is doubtful that there are enough “orange jumpsuits” to go round!
    Perhaps all outstanding traffic fines could be scarpped at the same time?

  • In a normal society this could be a way to go, but given our experience, such an amnesty process will in itself be corrupt.

  • An interesting thought and the process is required to be above board, etc, etc. however, the likelyhood of it being without some sort of influence by some creepy person/s who would sell their soul to the devil would be my concern. as has been stated is this matter of corruption over – a definite NO. corruption is inbreed in some of our leaders, politicians and business. all that will happen whether in orange overalls or amnesty is that the lesson learnt by the corrupt and corruptees is simple, go down deeper into the pit of corruption and limit the number of people involved. that is the sadness of this country and others where corruption is par for the course. amnesty is worth considering but it must not be left hanging – if those that receive amnesty are caught again they go straight to jail never to come out again. After all they have admitted guilt and must pay the price.

  • I’d support amnesty. The biggest hurdle is agreement on Points 6 – there HAS to be consequences of some sort. Perhaps disqualification to public office above a certain level?

    At the same time, also outlaw BEE and Cadre Deployment.

  • No, no, no. We had the TRC, yet the recommendations where ignored. The last thing we need is another body and process. Repeated amnesties create the moral hazard that the worst that happens is you confess, so some minor reparations and go Scott free. The article says it will be expensive!, so use the money to beef up the NPA and the justice system.

  • I have long thought that an amnesty of some kind is probably the only feasible option available – given the huge number of corrupt individuals already known, and those that are yet to be discovered. Our jails are just not big enough.
    However there must be some iron clad provisions:
    Firstly – All (or as much as possible) of their I’ll gotten gains should be returned to the state….even if it leaves the culprit penniless.
    Secondly – The scoundrels need to be named and shamed, and be banned *for life* from holding any position in politics and/or public office, as well as any directorships of public or private companies.
    And finally, as prescribed in this article, these disgraceful people have to admit their wrongdoing in full and apologize publicly for their shameful actions.

  • The only way there can be any amnesty – a minimum sentence of life without parole, should the applicant perpetrator be found have lied in any sense or not disclosed even the slightest information to the panel. The amnesty application period can be no longer than six months. All corrupt proceeds must be returned to taxpayers. Not the state, taxpayers!

  • Yes, the proposal of conditional amnesty as detailed above (in broad terms) would be a good proposal.
    Given the history of long winded and endless judicial process in this country I am sure that as long as the rule”pay back the money” applies most citizens would accept the ruling.

  • I have been a supporter of the “orange overalls for all” until I read this article. I will re-read it a few times and add my comments again. I like this bit …

    “the potential for prosecutions is a necessary prerequisite for the success of a proposed amnesty process. The prospect of prosecution would provide the requisite incentive for perpetrators to come forward, and the investigation and subsequent prosecution of those who are not forthcoming or do not fully disclose the extent of their wrongdoing or the parties involved would probably further incentivise those implicated.”

  • Giving Amnesty to a brigade of thieving gangsters ? You can not be serious! How on earth will this discourage future State Capturers ?????

  • While I do instinctively side with the ‘prosecute them all’ route, the reality of the capacity of the NPA to achieve this cannot be overlooked.

    However, I believe the whole idea of amnesty as presented here essentially aims to create only two options for the perpetrator. Either they must submit and pay back everything they have stolen, or they can begin their own personal Stalingrad Defence. For any such amnesty to work, it must be such that submitting to the amnesty is the preferred option because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. Something in the same ballpark as the death penalty. If the legislature cannot provide such, it must be amended to do so.

    Otherwise we will end up with another expensive TRC – a futile appeal to the inherent goodness within the very people that goodness does not exist.

  • Have the authors of this article completely lost their collective minds?
    This is like arresting a CIT syndicate and granting them amnesty because it’s too difficult to link them to all the CIT crimes when they can be positively identified but it’s too much trouble to interview the witnesses. If they’re let off the hook, they’ll almost certainly go back to CIT. They’re thugs and should face the full might of the law.
    These “alleged wrongdoers” they refer to in this article are merely white-collar thugs and should also face the same consequences. To let them off the hook because it’ll be too difficult to build a case is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The longer the law enforcement agencies (from SAPS, NPA and others that are supposed to do their jobs) mess about not doing anything about this, the more intricate it becomes. They must do their jobs and throw the guilty into jail now!! No amnesties! Because these alleged wrongdoers will merely go back to doing what they know best.

  • No way should we duck out of the onerous task of bringing these criminals to book. Enough time has been frittered away already. The crooks are beginning to feel they can come out and try to grab power as so far there have been no consequences.
    They have robbed us all blind and put SA in a perilous and parlous state and are hoping to do it again after 2024. They must be put away asap.

  • Let’s take a basic creature, like a dog, for example. If you give it a reward for bad behaviour, it will most certainly, 100%, absolutely, repeat the same bad behaviour. Yes, we must look forward, but there is be no road to travel if there are no consequences for ruining it.

  • I think this is a very sensible suggestion although a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t believe the NPA has any chance of reeling in the number of complex prosecutions that need to follow, not for the next 30 years. I think a rigid timeline by which the application for Amnesty needs to be in, a full disgorgement of the ill gotten gains pertaining to the perpetrator (bear in mind they may have been under instruction from a higher power who took the greatest share), demonstrated and complete transparency of the masterminds and their involvement, I wouldn’t go so far as to exclude them from the job market but they are listed on an offender’s list, perhaps given suspended sentences. Many of them have skills beyond corruption that could be utilised on some basis. Focus of the prosecution could then be directed at those who have not applied, the state would recover some of the money and the real culprits would end up with stronger cases against them. State Capture would have to be clearly defined and ringfenced, there must be no escape for people such as the riflers of VBS for example.

  • No, amnesty is not an option.

    If amnesty is granted corruption will continue, because it will be assumed that amnesty will be granted again in the future, as long as enough of the correctly aligned people participate in it.

    And anyone who thinks that there wouldn’t be a next time, because the loopholes will have been closed, is fooling him or herself. It is impossible to close all the loopholes. At some point one must rely on the honesty of people in positions of power and responsibility. Apparently, a sizeable portion of the South African population has no internal regulator that can be relied upon to keep them honest.

    This is an opportunity to very clearly illustrate the consequences of dishonest behaviour, which will maybe (maybe!) discourage dishonesty in the future.

    The most vulnerable people in our society have suffered unimaginably due to the corruption perpetrated and allowed by the ANC government and its deployees for the past 28 years. There is no doubt in my mind that South African citizens have lost their lives due to the corruption, because of lack of medical facilities, lack of opportunities, lack of resources, etc, which can all be traced back to lack of funds due to corruption.

    Amnesty will be a slap in the face of those who have suffered the most due to the corrupt acts of the ANC and its deployees.

    South Africa’s heart of darkness needs to be excised and destroyed. It cannot be allowed to remain part of our society.

    No, no, no to amnesty!

  • Thank you so much for reopening the debate. If we could have handled a Truth and Reconciliation Comission, we should be able to handle this process. It is a way out of the current deadlock and will provide the country with a possible mechanism to still prosecute those who will not participate and fully disclose and to identify and keep a special eye on those who participate for future activities.

  • The authors have the right of it when they write: “The prospect of amnesty for corruption in South Africa undoubtedly remains a bitter pill to swallow. The desire of ordinary citizens to see those who corruptly abused and exploited the public office they had been entrusted with face the full might of the law and criminal punishment fitting their crimes is entirely justified.”
    Not only entirely justified but the only way to reestablish the rule of law – an amnesty will achieve the exact opposite.

  • This is definitely a worthy idea. I have two reasons why I think this would be futile: 1) No one will show up and disclose. Because of the complete absence of any moral compass. None of the people that acted corrupt and criminal actually sees it that way. We have ample evidence to extent, not only from the Zondo Commission. 2) The proposed framework seems to require significant efforts/ resources expensed to run such an amnesty program. Is it really very different to the effort required to subject the gangsters and criminals to prosecution?

  • I would fully support an amnesty, subject to very stringent criteria. The alternative is that you might jail some culprits eventually, but SA will never see 1 cent of their stolen loot. In a post ANC SA, any recovered money would go a long way to helping fix the mess state capture created. Those implicated and amnestied will have their lives turned upside down.

  • In my opinion, there is no punishment harsh enough for the perpetrators of State Capture. It amounts to the most cynical kind of treachery, the deliberate exploitation of the hope and trust of an entire nation. This article seems to imagine that it’s somehow about the money. It is not, and what has been stolen cannot be returned.

  • I guess the Zondo report can be trashed the cost of which borne by the tax payer. I am very doubtful that the money will be recovered. It’s clear to me that JZ was either the architect of state capture or the central cog so prosecuting him would not need inconsiderable resources. Look at the state of Eskom now which has an artery of corruption running through it, will the people involved be offered amnesty if they’re ever caught. When will the amnesty end as it’s not any deterrent to future corruption.

  • Not sure I agree.
    Only way for SA to ensure that this never happen again is very long jail sentences for most involved. Examples need to be made of them and it should be made clear that crime does not pay.

    Giving them amnesty will pave the way for the next bunch of looters.

  • You gotta be kidding! You think the Zondo Commission took a long time, costing the taxpayer over a billion rand, how long do you think THIS would take, and how much more wasted money down the drain?!? Just like all these people I read about on a daily basis who get jail time for stealing from the companies they work for, these state capture cronies need to also see out a large portion of their future through the bars of a prison cell. Only then will we begin seeing a change of behaviour!

  • Surely, you are joking, right? After all that effort, time, money, exhaustive reporting, this is to be debated and considered, pffft! ……weak!

  • Tricky to argue that a fundamental reason for an amnesty is the lack of capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption, but then to threaten prosecution to those who do not disclose their corrupt dealings. They will know that there is no capacity and why, therefore, make any disclosure. This bind can only be overcome by allocating huge resources to create prosecutorial and investigative capacity, and then successfully prosecuting some high profile cases. Only then can one offer an amnesty that will look attractive against a verified capacity to jail offenders.
    Secondly, commentators always dance around the likely issue that the ANC itself has been a major beneficiary of corruption. How to handle this issue?

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