Zuma accepts Willem Heath's resignation
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".