Los Angeles Times

October 15, 2011 |  5:00 am

REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — A South African government minister reportedly spends the equivalent of nearly $70,000 of taxpayer money on a trip to Switzerland to visit his girlfriend in jail (facing drug charges), then tells the president that he was on official business.

Now that was embarrassing. (He’s been on sick leave since February).

Then there was the minister and the police chief who were implicated in an unlawful deal to lease police buildings at inflated prices, which cost taxpayers more than $250 million.

But those incidents pale beside the sprawling, routine corruption and negligence in South African governance exposed by Willie Hofmeyr, head of an anti-corruption agency called the Special Investigating Unit. He told Parliament this week that around 20% of all government procurements, or about $3.8 billion, go missing each year — some of it stolen, the rest untraceable because of negligenceRead more.