The President said this when responding to oral questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“The real tragedy of VBS is that money was stolen from those in our society who could least afford it.
“It is a tragedy that has continued itself across several of our State-owned enterprises in municipalities and in respect to several private companies. For the sake of our people and our economy, I believe that we need to make a decisive break for those corrupt activities and build a new era of integrity and honesty in our public as well as private institutions.
“That is why we must act against those who are responsible for destroying VBS and for all those in private companies, in SOEs and other parts of the State who are trying to steal our country’s future,” he said.
The leader of the opposition, the Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane, had asked the President what he had done upon learning of the revelations that occurred at VBS Mutual Bank that led to it being placed under curatorship.
A few weeks ago, lead forensic investigator Advocate Terry Motau released a report titled the ‘Great Bank Heist’, which told a story of how several individuals colluded to loot the bank and also named the characters who were implicated in the saga.
Ramaphosa said shortly after becoming President, he received a briefing from National Treasury, where he was alerted to alleged corruption at VBS.
“I was informed that the SA Reserve Bank had initiated an investigation into this matter in response to my request for a comprehensive report on VBS.
“I received a briefing from National Treasury, as well as from the South African Reserve Bank, on the report that was submitted by Advocate Terry Motau just before its public release.
“The report presents a deeply disturbing picture of theft and corruption on a massive scale. It is essential that all those who are responsible for facilitating this fraud and this corruption and all those who have benefited from it must be held accountable.
“We call on all the relevant institutions, and in fact, we insist that all relevant institutions must act swiftly to prosecute those responsible, but also to move with greater speed to recover the funds that were stolen from the bank’s depositors because most of these depositors are pensioners, old men and women – who had put their life savings into VBS and there are also stokvels and burial societies, who are struggling as a result to bury their dead because their money is lost,” he said.
The President also called for action to be taken against those municipal officials, and in some cases “political officials”, who deposited municipal funds into the mutual bank knowing that it was not legal and that their actions could lead to significant financial losses to those individual municipalities.
“It is particularly disturbing that many of the people who have suffered losses (sic) as a result of these crimes are the poor rural residents of our country.
“It is critical that every effort is made to recover those monies to minimise losses suffered by the bank’s depositors. For much of its existence, VBS was a good bank for ordinary people and it gave loans and mortgages to people in rural areas and now through greed and deception and theft, that bank has been destroyed.
“We take a dim view of those who have been implicated in criminal activity rushing to court to try and hide their malfeasance and not make any effort to apologise to those who have lost money,” he said.