Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Adv W. H. Heath SC Press release
Adv W. H. Heath SC
Tudor Place II, 283 Durban Rd
Tel: +27 21 910 2252 • Fax: +27 21 910 2284
18 December 2011
As was announced by the Honourable Minister of Justice and Constitutional
Development on Thursday, 15 December 2011, I have resigned my position as head
of the Special Investigation Unit (“SIU”). The SIU is one of the most important
institutions to support and develop our democracy. It is tasked with combating and
eradicating corruption, fraud and maladministration in our country, thereby
protecting the rights of all South Africans to expect that service delivery in this
country is achieved as effectively as possible, creating an environment in which
government can spend the money of the South African tax payer without fear or
The events of the past two weeks have created the impression that I am unable to
head the SIU independently. Correct or not, the initial media coverage of an
interview in which I participated left the impression that I made unqualified
statements of political events which may be unbecoming of the head of the SIU. In
the public domain therefore, such an impression has created much public debate
and impression is often as important as fact.
Such an impression has created much discourse which has opened the door to
political debate and conflict between the political parties who represent the South
African populace. The role of SIU Head dictates that any South African of which ever
political persuasion or belief may approach the SIU to investigate any matter in the
interest of any grouping or the public as a whole. If the impression is therefore
created, correctly or through innuendo, that the head of the SIU is not independent
enough to deliver on such a mandate, then the SIU and the Republic would be better
served by me resigning from such a position.
It was for this reason that I resigned my recently appointed post as head of the SIU.
The importance and mandate of the SIU is of greater importance than the person of
the head of the SIU - the interests of South Africa dictate this. While my successful
tenure as the inaugural head of the SIU, my part in drafting the legislation governing
the SIU and my well-known history of heading the SIU without fear or favour makes
me adequately experienced and qualified to head the SIU, I was ethically bound to
resign from this position due to the doubt created in the public eye.
The collective vision of all South Africans that this country will achieve greatness by
eradicating corruption and thereby improving service delivery is of fundamental
importance. Such a vision should form the basis of our collective endeavours as
South Africans in our interaction with all levels of government and in government’s
interaction with the private sector.
Corruption is not only an attributed evil to government, but is fuelled by the often
unsolicited bribery by the private sector of government officials.
It is therefore my sincere hope that this collective vision will allow South Africa to
progress to a nation where service delivery and the fundamental rights of South
Africans are promoted by effectively combating corruption – a shared vision by
government, all political parties and South Africans in general.
Enquiries: Marius Heath
Cell: 083 777 44 77
Tel: 021 910 2252
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Zuma accepts Willem Heath's resignation
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Johannesburg - Willem Heath has resigned as head of the Special Investigating Unit, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Thursday.
"He tendered his resignation as the head of the SIU in writing on Wednesday and I have brought [it] to the attention of the President [Jacob Zuma]," said Radebe.
"The President has accepted his resignation and it has become effective."
Last week, Zuma asked Radebe to help his office in an investigation into Heath's accusations against former president Thabo Mbeki.
Heath told the City Press newspaper earlier this month that Mbeki had allegedly initiated rape and corruption charges against Zuma. He claimed Mbeki abused his position to compromise the criminal justice system by blocking some investigations into corrupt practices.
"I invited Advocate Heath to a follow-up meeting in my office in Pretoria in order to have the matters further clarified following his submission of information he had undertaken to make available," Radebe said on Thursday.
Heath, whose appointment as SIU head was announced on November 29, expressed gratitude to Zuma and Radebe for showing confidence in him by giving him the appointment, said Radebe.
"The manner in which events unfolded following his appointment, created a perception, rightly or wrongly, that he would not be in a position to execute his duties in an independent manner as expected or required of an incumbent holding that position."
Zuma was taking steps to fill the vacancy. In the interim he appointed Nomgcobo Jiba as acting SIU head.
Jiba is currently a deputy national director of public prosecutions at the national prosecuting authority.
"She has served as a senior prosecutor and has extensive knowledge of criminal law and experience in prosecuting corruption cases," Radebe said.
"We would like to give assurance to all South Africans that our government remains committed towards fighting corruption."
Heath replaced Willie Hofmeyr as SIU head. He was first appointed by former president Nelson Mandela in 1996 to establish the SIU.
Heath, however, resigned in 2001 after the Constitutional Court found that a sitting judge could not head a long-term investigating unit.
The City Press also reported that Mbeki, who was president at the time, refused to grant Heath an early retirement. As a result he had to resign, a decision that, according to Heath, left him a "pauper".
DA: Statement by Helen Zille, Democratic Alliance leader, calling on Zuma to explain appointment of Willem Heath as head of the SIU (05/12/2011)
StatementsPublished 05 Dec 2011 I shall today be writing to President Jacob Zuma requesting that he inform us of the reasons for the dismissal of Willie Hofmeyr as head of the Special Invesitgations Unit, and the reasons for his appointment of Advocate Willem Heath in his place.
The South African public remains in the dark about last week's sudden dismissal by the President of Willie Hofmeyr, and his replacement with Adv. Willem Heath.
The DA immediately raised concerns regarding the objectivity and independence of Adv. Heath.
These concerns were confirmed, and indeed exacerbated yesterday in an interview with Adv. Heath published in the City Press. It is clear from this interview that Adv. Heath has involved himself in factional ANC politics and aligned himself politically on the side of President Jacob Zuma.
This raises serious questions as to whether he will be able to objectively and impartially conduct investigations into corruption at all levels of government. Our concern remains that the President is trying to assert control over independent institutions by appointing people who are loyal to him as factional battles intensify in the run-up to the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference in 2012.
Section 3(4)(b) of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996 provides that the President may at any time remove the head of a Special Investigating Unit "if there are sound reasons for doing so".
We cannot allow the “Zumafication” of South Africa’s constitutionally independent justice system. We believe the President must now supply the “sound reasons” for removing Mr Hofmeyr.
Moreover, in the light of Heath's admitted political loyalty, the President should explain why he sees Adv. Heath as a "fit and proper person to be entrusted with the responsibilities of that office", as required in terms of the Act.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter