22/05/2017 14:18 BST | Updated 22/05/2017 14:18 BST

'Mafia state' claim by churches is worrying - Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa again called for a judicial inquiry into state capture.

Rogan Ward / Reuters
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban, South Africa, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

The SA Council of Churches' (SACC) belief that the country is on the brink of becoming a mafia state is worrying, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says.

"It's something that should make all of us sad, that the South Africa of Nelson Mandela is now being said to be on the brink of becoming a mafia state," he said, delivering the SACP's Moses Kotane lecture in Rustenburg on Sunday.

Last week, the SACC's "unburdening panel" released findings that indicated a powerful elite linked to President Jacob Zuma was "systematically siphoning state assets". The panel consisted of clergy who heard confessions and received information about allegations of state capture.

Ramaphosa again called for a judicial inquiry into state capture.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela recommended in her State of Capture report, released last year, that a judicial inquiry should be established to look into claims that Zuma's friends, the Guptas, had undue influence over his decisions, including his appointment of ministers.

'Need to get to the bottom of this'

This included allegations that the Guptas influenced some state-owned enterprises.

Such an inquiry would be the only way for the ANC to counter this threat and re-establish itself as a leader in society.

"More and more people are now saying this is the only way out, because to continuously be hearing about state capture, this one did that, that one did that, and names of people are being bandied around, is not a good thing for us in our country. We need to get to the bottom of this," he said.

The ANC could not afford to go into the 2019 elections with the baggage of state capture.

"2019 is our destination where the ANC must win elections."

The commission would be able to establish the extent to which state institutions were being used improperly and illegally to enrich a few individuals and families, he said.