Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head, advocate Andy Mothibi, said the institution was “happy” to cooperate with and the support Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her investigation of the institution’s department of public works (DPW) probes.
He also called the complainant’s allegations “malicious”.
An anonymous dossier apparently sent to the public protector’s office mainly targets the DPW. But Mothibi said the SIU was drawn into the complaint.
The complainant accuses the SIU of wasting the DPW’s money by not producing results when it investigated various complaints related to the DPW.
In the complaint it was also alleged that there was a relationship between the deputy director-general of the department, Imtiaz Fazel, and Mothibi.
Mothibi strenuously denied the allegations and called them “malicious”.
He said there was no truth to the claims and said the SIU would gladly co-operate with the public protector’s investigation to clear its name.
Public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the complaint was lodged in March against former public works minister Thulas Nxesi and executives at the department.
However, he said that he would confirm whether or not the SIU was specifically under investigation.
Mothibi said his office had not received any official communication from the public protector’s office about the complaint, but was made aware of it because of the circulation of the complainant’s dossier.
On Wednesday, Mothibi echoed what his team said in a statement issued on Sunday, saying the complaint was without basis.
The SIU said that the allegation that Fazel and Mothibi were friends was “baseless and irrational”. Mothibi told News24 that Fazel was merely a contact person at the DPW and that they had no prior relationship.
Mothibi said there were presidential proclamations authorising SIU investigations into the DPW in 2010, 2015 and 2018.
The SIU said that, among other successes, these investigations had resulted in:
– civil litigation instituted to help the state recover more than R1.4 billion lost due to corruption, fraud and maladministration;
– at least 221 officials referred for disciplinary action;
– at least 365 cases of conflict of interest identified;
– at least 181 cases of possible criminality referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution; and
– more than R1 billion in irregular expenditure identified.
The SIU said it was following up on its cases and referrals to ensure that action was taken, and that the establishment of the special tribunal in October would speed up the recovery of money in civil litigation.
Mothibi was asked whether he felt the public protector’s probe into the SIU’s work in this instance was within her mandate.
He said that he had not received any communication from her office yet and said that the “legalities” would be discussed once the complaint was formally communicated.
“We are happy to cooperate. We would like to support the work that the PP’s office does. We don’t depart from the point of view that we’d like to interdict [her investigation] and so on.
“But should there be instances where, by law, we need to intervene, we will do so. And we will not just do it for the sake of doing it – we will engage with the public protector’s office and try to get some understanding of the legal provisions that are applicable,” Mothibi said.