South Africa will need an active and capable state to lift itself out of this crisis. Corruption in public procurement is a major impediment to this. The Covid-19 procurement scandals that have shocked the country vividly illustrate this problem. Ethics are important. Ethical government, however, rests on establishing institutions, checks and balances that prevent public servants from doing the wrong thing and that encourage them to serve the social and economic interests of the people of South Africa. In this policy brief we present a simple reform that will help to achieve this in public procurement. It consists of a mechanism that encourages whistleblowing and the recovery of civil damages arising in the course of fraudulent transactions perpetrated against the state.