Indaba Spotlights Fraud in Public Procurement

Fraud in Public Procurement

Fraud and the vital role of whistleblowers were among the compelling topics on the programme at the 16th annual Smart Procurement World Indaba last month. A number of speakers shared their insights and advice with delegates on the enormous challenge of white collar crime in South Africa.

Steven PowellIrregular expenditure in national and provincial government departments and State-Owned Enterprises is costing South Africa billions of rands every year. In his gripping presentation entitled “Let’s Talk About the ‘F’ Word”, Director of ENSafrica and a witness and Investigator for the State Capture Commission, Steven Powell, noted that for everyone in the supply chain management world, fraud is something that “creeps in” at some time. Powell shared accounts of his work in uncovering tender fraud and corruption.

Liezl GroenewaldWhistleblowing is a crucial tool in the fight against corruption, and this was examined at the Indaba in a powerful presentation by Liezl Groenewald, Senior Manager at The Ethics Institute South Africa and Co-Founding Director of Whistleblower House.

“Encouraging people to speak up and expose wrongdoing is a major factor in fighting fraud, corruption and unethical behaviour. The mere presence of a whistleblowing system may be enough to deter people,” she said.

Expanding on the importance of whistleblowing, she explained that it can prevent issues from escalating. “Whistleblowing provides an opportunity to detect problems early on. When the information is shared directly with the dedicated team, the company can deal with the concern immediately, before it escalates.”

She said that it can also reduce losses. “A company can prevent corruption, fraud or theft from happening again. Painful losses which are damaging for everyone, from employees to clients and suppliers, can be avoided.

“Without whistleblowers, we may be unaware of illegal or unethical conduct in a company,” she noted. “The information they pass on, no matter the degree of severity or the nature of it, can raise awareness of issues and concerns. With such knowledge in hand, a company can learn, grow and flourish. A proper whistleblowing system is essential to manage breaches in a quick and constructive way,” Groenewald told Indaba attendees.

To protect whistleblowers and avoid retaliation against them, she recommended that organisations develop a comprehensive whistleblowing policy. Having independent investigators, training management, following-up with whistleblowers and ensuring confidentiality and their anonymity were also vital, she said.

The annual Smart Procurement World Indaba is South Africa’s largest, longest-standing conference and expo for procurement and inbound supply chain professionals. According to organiser Smart Procurement World, this year was a landmark Indaba as it offered the profession a critical opportunity to meet in person to learn and network for the first time since the start of the pandemic.



Smart Procurement World (SPW) is the largest professional development event for procurement and inbound supply chain, supported and endorsed by industry professional bodies. SPW also achieves professional development for procurement and supply chain professionals while achieving economic development objectives in each region through enterprise, supplier development linking small business to supply chain.

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