At the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) briefing to the Parliament justice portfolio committee yesterday, acting SIU head Advocate Nomvula Mokhatla confirmed that she is serving as acting head of the SIU whilst still fulfilling her role as a Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions.

There has been no head of the Special Investigating Unit since Willem Heath resigned last year.

This admission serves to compound the mystery around the removal of Willie Hofmeyr. The Democratic Alliance asked Adv Hofmeyr directly whether the president had given him reasons for his removal as SIU head.

He eventually replied that he had been spoken to and that it was discussed with him that he could not continue to do two jobs.

It is also unclear whether he was given a choice as to whether he would prefer to retain his post as SIU head or remain as the head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).

The question needs to be asked why, in principle, is Advocate Nomvula Mokhatla allowed to act as SIU head and continue her job in Public Prosecutions, but Willie Hofmeyr was not permitted to do “two jobs”, despite his excellent performance in both.

In terms of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996, the president may remove the head of the SIU “if there are sound reasons for doing so”. The president has supplied no reasons whatsoever.

On 5 December 2011, DA Leader Helen Zille addressed a letter to the president requesting such reasons. The only response from him has been an acknowledgement of receipt.

The SIU fulfills a vital role in combatting corruption in South Africa.

The chaos that has been wrought in the recent months by Hofmeyer’s removal, the appointment and resignation of Judge Willem Heath, the appointment and removal of Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba and now Advocate Mokhatla’s appointment is unforgivable.

It is equally unacceptable that the President continues to ignore his legislative responsibilities and requests for reasons for his actions from the official opposition.

A severe cash crisis is also hampering the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)’s capacity to probe corruption, acting chief financial officer Garth Elliot said at the same briefing.

The unit had been forced to terminate the contracts of part-time staff, he said in Cape Town after a briefing to Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice.

At present, the SIU had to make do without R 175 million that is due to it from state entities, leaving R 307 million that was directly allocated from National Treasury for this financial year.

Why is the war against corruption being hampered in South Africa?

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