Who is smearing the SIU?

2011-09-24 11:31

One of the crucial elements of any investigation is motive. It’s often as important to know why someone did something wrong as it is to understand what it is.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) – one of the key components of government’s anti-corruption machinery, with more than 20 investigations under way at any given time – dedicates huge resources to analysing the actions and motives of people ­involved in corruption.

But this work could be diminished by what appears to be a systematic campaign in recent months to discredit the SIU, its leadership and staff.

Allegations have been coming thick and fast, almost as fast as we have been assigned new investigations.

The ­accusations mention a lack of representivity, suggestions that certain staff have been “forced out” and allegations of racism and victimisation.

What are the real motives behind these attacks? They certainly aren’t to tell the truth – the vast majority of ­allegations are not only factually ­incorrect but also distort what is really going on at the SIU.

» Representivity: two members of our five-member exco are African males and we are currently busy with ­appointments that will ensure an African majority on exco.

The SIU is passionate about transformation and is devoting significant resources to it.

» Managers being “dismissed and forced out”: these accusations centre around the cases of Faiek Davids, Michael Leaser and Mizeria Nyathi.

Davids’ case has been widely reported on – the unit will not tolerate those who think it proper for law enforcement agencies to play a role in politics.

Leaser is suspended and facing a disciplinary process on allegations of misconduct – he has already pleaded guilty on some charges.

Nyathi was suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry into two very serious charges against her. When ­instructed to take a polygraph test, she refused.

The Labour Court ruled that this constituted a breach of her ­employment contract and the SIU was entitled to terminate her employment.

» Racism: the SIU and its leadership have always been very clear that ­racism is completely unacceptable. One employee was recently dismissed ­after a disciplinary process, as ­required by law.

» Victimisation: some staff members claim they are victimised for raising ­issues. We reject these accusations.

Membership of a staff organisation or trade union does not confer immunity from investigation where allegations of misconduct are made.

We have recognised a representative union and are committed to making this relationship work in the best interests of the SIU and its staff.

The SIU is continually striving to improve performance while ensuring we adapt to changing conditions and to make the unit representative of ­society as a whole. Processes such as these inevitably make as many ­enemies as they do friends.

» Muller is the SIU’s acting head of communications 

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