Lifestyle audits in South Africa – overrated or X-factor?

Jacqui-Lyn McIntyre, Duane Aslett, Nico Buitendag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his 2018 State of the Nation Address, stated that “Thieves who are stealing public funds should be arrested and prosecuted”, and called for lifestyle audits of public-sector employees. The gross misuse of COVID-19 relief funds by public officials indicated the urgent need to execute these audits as an anti-corruption measure. This paper aims to provide a review of the existing state of affairs with regard to the application of lifestyle audits in South Africa. Design/methodology/approach: This paper critically analyses the literature available on the current position of South Africa concerning lifestyle audits in the public sector, based on the mandates of some of the anti-corruption agencies that could be responsible for the conducting and processing of such audits. Findings: South Africa has only recently seen a framework for applying lifestyle audits, developed by the Department of Public Service and Administration. Although these first steps in developing a standard practice are laudable, the practical process of dealing with misconduct and/or criminal matters remains to be seen. It is recommended that South Africa consider a legislative approach to dealing with unlawfully obtained wealth by either criminalising the act of illicit enrichment (per the United Nations Convention Against Corruption) or creating an Unexplained Wealth Order, as seen, for example, in the UK. Originality/value: South Africa is in dire need of addressing corruption in the public sector. Despite lifestyle audits being called for, the lack of proper implementation is negating any positive outcomes. Therefore, alternative solutions should be investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1095
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Financial Crime
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023


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