The antigraft organisation Corruption Watch wants government agencies to be more transparent regarding progress in high-level criminal investigations.
It said the recent Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report exposing R1.2 billion graft in the Gauteng health department was just the tip of the iceberg of investigations – the progress of which the public had yet to hear about.
In a joint statement, Corruption Watch, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Section 27 said their constant requests for the SIU to provide them with updates on the progress of the investigation since it started in 2010 fell on deaf ears.
It was only released to Section 27 in May this year, following a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request.
But the report was handed to then president Jacob Zuma in 2017 – seven years after it was commissioned.
The report detailed an investigation into the provincial health department between January 2006 and May 2010. It made damning findings against former health MEC Brian Hlongwa, the current ANC Gauteng chief whip, as well as contractor 3P Consulting and its directors.
Corruption Watch CEO David Lewis said the courts needed to ensure parties who laid charges were allowed a degree of transparency when it came to the progress of criminal investigations.
“There may be statutory amendments that need to be made for criminal investigation in which we were complainants and laid charges. For instance, in the [Sars commissioner] Tom Moyane investigation, we wanted the police to tell us who the investigative officer was and at what stage the investigation was – and it has been impossible. We are even considering approaching a court to seek some sort of declaratory order.”
This week, the TAC and Corruption Watch wrote to the South Gauteng director of public prosecutions – where criminal matters from the SIU report are referred to for further investigation – the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).
A second letter was sent to the AFU, as assets held by Hlongwa and 3P Consulting are currently in dispute.
The organisations want to know why it is taking this long to bring implicated parties to book.
“We will take whatever action we can that something is done,” Lewis said.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed the body was leading the investigation as part of the ACTT, but said it was the agency’s strategy not to reveal at which stage the investigation was so as to avoid jeopardising the case.
“Matters were referred to us and once the matter has been finalised we will make pronouncements.”
Hlongwa could not be reached for comment, while the Gauteng ANC said it would respond after studying the report.
INFO: What the report found
- The report implicates at least 10 former senior officials in the department. Some received a “slap on the wrist”, while others simply resigned.
- The officials allegedly received kickbacks in exchange for awarding tenders to certain service providers. These kickbacks reportedly included free overseas vacations and, in Hlongwa’s case, the money to purchase a R7.2 million residence in a high-end Johannesburg suburb.