Radebe: No Simelane, Hofmeyr beef
Johannesburg - There are no strained relations between National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane and the head of the NDPP's Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) Willie Hofmeyr, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Friday.
There were also no plans to close the AFU, he said.
Radebe was reacting to recent reports that corruption complaints against Hofmeyr, which were forwarded to the police for investigation, reportedly by Simelane, could be designed to lead to the closure of the AFU.
His statement followed his meeting with Simelane and Hofmeyr on Thursday to discuss the issues.
"Based on the views expressed and assurances they gave, I am in a position to indicate that there are no strained relations between the national director and his deputy Willie Hofmeyr," Radebe said.
False claims about the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were being fed to the media to paint a bleak picture of the state of affairs there, he said.
Regarding the "perceived extinction" of the AFU in the NPA, Radebe said: "There is no intention to do away with this function.
"In any event this function is provided for in our law."
The other matter related to a corruption complaint against Hofmeyr in connection with the investigation of businessman Dave King.
This reportedly relates to a request by the AFU that the billionaire withdraw complaints against the unit as a part of a plea deal on several charges against him, including tax evasion.
From the time the complaint was raised, it had been handled by the Integrity Management Unit (IMU) within the NPA.
"Any decision to refer any complaint for possible criminal investigation against any official rests with the IMU and not the national director [Simelane]," said Radebe.
"In the Hofmeyr matter, the IMU saw no basis to depart from that principled practice and consequently referred the matter to the SA Police Service for possible investigation. Hofmeyr accepts this position as the requisite due process aspect of our law."
Radebe said the police should be given the space to conduct and conclude their investigation without undue pressure.
"As government, we remain committed to lending support and providing guidance where necessary in an effort to ensure that the NPA never gets derailed," said Radebe.
Hofmeyr also faces an allegation by the National Health and Allied Workers' Union that he flouted procurement processes for the refurbishment of office space.
Last year, Simelane unveiled a strategic five-year plan for the NPA, which included centralising the running of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit and the AFU. After complaints from opposition political parties, Radebe told him to put the plan on hold.
Simelane criticised the AFU for aiming for an annual financial target on asset restraint orders and measuring its success in these terms, while failing to achieve a 60% success rate in court judgments.
The NPA annual report showed that the value of the unit's new restraining orders for that past financial year was R491m, 36% above target and the second highest amount in the AFU's existence.
NPA spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga said the Hofmeyr matter was still with the police.