Corruption in public office hard to detect: Judge


JUSTICE Teresa Berrigan says corruption in public office is very difficult to detect because the offenders are demanding money for “simply doing their job”.
“Corruption is deadly to the nation if it is not dealt with swiftly and sternly. It is like cancer that grows, causing death,” she added.
Justice Berrigan was commenting on the case of Lands Department lodgement officer Doreen Tatu who she jailed three years but suspended the sentence.
Instead she fined Tatu K2,000 for soliciting K450 from Tonessi Jiji Ewebi for the replacement of a property title.
Justice Berrigan said Ewebi had already paid the K500 application fee and was issued an official receipt for the service before Tatut asked for more money.
“This case is the perfect example of the type of cancer that grows until it becomes so entrenched, like in some countries, that it simply becomes accepted as a necessary part of dealing with the public service,” she said.
“This case was only detected because the title could not be issued when Ewebi produced a discharge of mortgage over the property.
“Ewebi, also contributed to the culture of corruption by paying the money instead of reporting Tatut to her superiors.”
Tatut, 38, of Talvat village in Kokopo, East New Britain, was told that the sentence would be suspended on the condition that she kept the peace and be of good behaviour for three years.
She was also ordered to do community work under the supervision of the probation service one day every weekend for a period of one year during the period of her suspension.
The K2,000 fine should be paid within a month.