News24

Presidency distances itself from Heath

2011-12-10 14:40

Johannesburg - The presidency on Saturday distanced itself from comments made by newly appointed Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Willem Heath against former President Thabo Mbeki, saying they were made in his personal capacity.

"The presidency and government in general have nothing whatsoever to do with the comments made by Mr Heath," said spokesperson Mac Maharaj in a statement.

"None of the allegations made by Mr Heath have been attributed to any duty or function which he exercises as the head of the SIU."

Heath told the City Press that Thabo Mbeki, former president and political rival to Jacob Zuma, allegedly initiated rape and corruption charges against Zuma.

Abused his position

He also told the Sunday newspaper that Mbeki also allegedly abused his position to compromise the criminal justice system by blocking some investigations into corrupt practices.

The corruption charges against Zuma and arms company Thint were dropped, and Zuma was acquitted on the rape charge.

On Thursday, Mbeki's office rejected the claims as defamatory and malicious.

A lawyer for Mbeki's foundation has asked the presidency for evidence of allegations that Heath reportedly levelled against him.

Maharaj acknowledged receipt of a letter in this regard, but said a perusal of the newspaper report makes it abundantly clear that it was conducted by Heath - who resigned as SIU head when Mbeki was president - in his personal capacity.

Serious nature of allegations

Given the serious nature of the allegations, Zuma had instructed his office to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the Heath interview, he said.

Maharaj said Zuma made the announcement during a radio interview on Wednesday, soon after he became aware of the City Press newspaper article.

"We wish to emphasise therefore, that President Zuma acted on the matter before any complaint from any quarter, because he was concerned about the contents of the interview," he said.

"The president has requested the minister of justice and constitutional development [Jeff Radebe] to assist his office and prioritise the matter so that it can be brought to conclusion without delay."

Radebe indicated in a statement on Saturday afternoon, that he hopes to conclude consultation and report back to Zuma next week.

Implications

He would look into the validity of the media reports and the possible implications thereof.

"It is important that we attend to the allegations, whether factual or not, in order to ascertain the impact such comments could have on the government if found to be true," he said.

Radebe, together with the director general in his department, Nonkululeko Sindane, had met with Heath on Tuesday to understand the context of the interview with the City Press.

In the same meeting, Heath strongly indicated that the comments were not made in his professional capacity as the head of the SIU.

Freedom of expression

Radebe said the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression for everyone.

In exercising this right, there was always a potential for consequences to follow, he said.

"It however remains an imperative of our government and all its officials to ensure at all times that we must not contravene any law or violate the rights of others, while carrying out our duties. And this is one of the reasons why we cannot leave these allegations unattended."

Since his appointment, the Congress of the People called Heath "too risky" and the Democratic Alliance said he was "too partisan".

The Inkatha Freedom Party, African Christian Democratic Party, and the African National Congress were happy that he was back.

Comments
  • Ampers - 2011-12-10 14:53

    He'd better be careful! Under the new law he might find himself in prison :-)

  • The-Azanian - 2011-12-10 15:03

    Wonder what heath got his eyes on *economically*, we all knw what bondz friendship in A and C...moola.

      The-Azanian - 2011-12-10 15:26

      impressive...

  • The-Azanian - 2011-12-10 15:03

    Wonder what heath got his eyes on *economically*, we all knw what bondz friendship in A and C...moola.

  • Shirley - 2011-12-10 15:05

    The anc is "distant" from anything that doesnt pertain to self enrichment.

      Pierre - 2011-12-11 01:41

      I guess in your world apartheid will always be better, and although there are so many positives in for example the economy, crime reduction, health services, housing and politics since 1994, you will indefinitely refuse to acknowledge any of these.

      Garth - 2011-12-11 08:03

      @pierre: Have you ever visited the planet earth? So many positives since 1994? By listing those areas you definitely are from another planet, probably Ur-anus. Crime reduction? The economy? Housing? What country are you from anyway? Your flag looks to be a cross between the flag of the Netherlands and the flag of Nigeria - please excuse my ignorance.

  • comurray - 2011-12-10 15:31

    So the mud slinging starts all over again, Heath is under the impression that being appointed as chief of the SIU by the president gives him the right to say what he likes whenever it suits him. He is about to find out that he is not above the law, what a pity.

  • George - 2011-12-10 15:40

    P.S Wonder what all your other judges are thinking about you now

  • Larry - 2011-12-10 15:48

    Distance from Heath? Zuma hired him, as repayment for keeping him out of Jail. He bought a Pup and now does not like it that the Pup Sh**s on the carpet.

  • acsteyn - 2011-12-10 16:03

    Glad he is stirring the pot. Zuma would have expected no less. Does Zuma really care about what Mbeki thinks? or anyone else for that matter?

  • Rob - 2011-12-10 16:03

    Thanks goodness my trust in this lot and their credibility was obliterated years ago. I cannot think of any one aspect of this that changes my view. As politicians they are in there with the best that Africa has to offer, as credible individuals.......?

  • Shoe - 2011-12-10 16:24

    Heath could have simply kept his snout shut! If he was going to use the pathetic excuse that he was speaking on his individually capacity, why wait until re-hired as an SIU head? He had 10 years to froth this crapp out of his mouth, why now? Zuma has friends in all the low places. They now are crawling out of the wood work one by one. Only God knows what other creep is going to rear its crazy head next.

  • fritz.louw - 2011-12-10 16:40

    I can attest how the then Heath Commission / Investigation Unit would not attend to my allegations of the crimes Armscor and African Defence Systems (ADS) committed during the period 1992 to 1999. Armscor/ADS are indeed disgraceful and fundamentally corrupt organizations and both a shame for South Africa – in the past, now and it looks like in the foreseeable future as well. See for yourself by Googling “fritz louw”.

      Vegi - 2011-12-10 17:07

      I googled you and found your credentials unimpressive.

      colin.dovey - 2011-12-10 17:48

      I "Googled" @Vegi and found Turnips :-)

  • Geronimo - 2011-12-10 16:53

    Shhhhhhhh... we wouldn't want anyone to know we have the President's puppet in the SIU.

  • Sterling - 2011-12-10 16:54

    This should read the president has distanced himself from Heath.

  • June - 2011-12-10 17:35

    When Heath gets fired if Zuma thinks it is expedient who will pick up the bill for his severence package?? Zuma in his personal capacity having chosen him or the taxpayer????

  • Neil - 2011-12-10 20:01

    Many people know what the ANC's end-game is, and everything on the road to it is just a peculiarity, or rather, a means to an end. This is just another of those peculiarities. Are these fools just temporarily entertaining us?? This guy is nothing more than a "Volks verraaier," who betrays his own for a temporary kiss-@ss ANC salary. Personally I think this is just another ANC lackey who has run his mouth as so many others have have, giving away their team's strategy, like Malema has, like Mantashe did when he said the ANC will continue their support for Zanu PF in Zimbabwe (on the 8th of this month, December 2011)... it's amazing how people can still bullsh*t themselves about this "rainbow nation." It's a beautiful dream, but unattainable, soon we will be just be another Zimbabwe dying together of hunger, only difference is, we won't have any other country to run to, and burden with our former leaders' plague. Let's just all be honest to each other and admit that liberalism is a failed ideal, as much as we tried to make it work, it was just a pipe-dream.

      maseratifittipaldi - 2011-12-10 20:41

      Neil : Try to look through the smoke of what you call a pipe dream, and ask yourself the question : Why can we agree on a personal level but differ on a political level? The answer, which is very clear to me, is manipulation. Classification. Polarisation. Politicization. The smoke and mirrors of political power play brings this country down. What we need is leadership towards national goals, and proper, ethical,dedicated,conscientious management. We MUST depoliticize this country and start managing our dreams.

      Neil - 2011-12-10 21:42

      Hi maseratifittipaldi. As much as I respect and appreciate your opinion, what I referred to as the ANC's "end-game" will come to pass, no matter what our personal opinions on the matter is. That end-game doesn't include the people who created the South-African economy into the future South-African economy. The ANC wants a black totalitarian state, like there is in Zimbabwe. No matter how liberal you are at the moment, it won't matter when the ANC one day gives the go-ahead to it's "citizens" on it's "take what you believe is yours policy," we will suffer together, don't matter if you consider yourself left-wing or right-wing or "draad-sitter."

      maseratifittipaldi - 2011-12-10 23:38

      Yes, Neil. That is what the ANC wants. But what do the people of S.A. want? The first step towards freedom is getting rid of the ANC. Detuning politics. Getting some honest work done.

  • Gregory Jurgens - 2011-12-10 20:44

    Should read. Bored Heath has fckall to do, so creates controversy to gain attention. Old man with delusions of self importance

  • Boy - 2011-12-11 00:23

    welcome back Mr Heath.

  • Silvana - 2011-12-11 06:24

    Yeah right! And Santa's coming to dinner tonight. What a load of crock. Seems like there's a bit of disaster management going on here.

  • Chris - 2011-12-11 07:08

    In one tyrade Mr Heath has proved he is not fit for the office - how will he ever be able to make an unbiased decision when involving the Mbekites - or his Patron the Zumaites!! Willie Hofmeyer better not settle in to his new office too comfortably!

  • Gail - 2011-12-11 09:45

    Well this is obviously why the other Willem was removed and replaced by Mr Heath - he and Zuma have a close personal relationship which dates back a long way and he should recuse himself from this investigation based on the fact that he is not impartial and never was. It also calls into question whether previous judgements made by him regarding Zuma and fraud and Zuma and rape should be recognised.

  • Trevor - 2011-12-11 14:44

    I thought Heath was this supa dupa intelligent guy...seems more like a tool to me...and a stupid one at that to...why oh WHY does the ANC surround itself with....idiots...LOL

  • madsipho - 2011-12-13 09:40

    So Zuma's enemy is Heath's enemy, lemme watch their game as they're challenging very intelligent man(Thabo Mbeki). IDIOTS!

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