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SIU says funding crisis threatens work

2012-04-20 16:02

Cape Town - A severe cash crisis is hampering the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)'s capacity to probe corruption, acting chief financial officer Garth Elliot said on Friday.

The unit had been forced to terminate the contracts of part-time staff, he said in Cape Town after a briefing to Parliament's portfolio committee on justice.

At present, the SIU had to make do without about R175m that is due to it from state entities, leaving R307m that was directly allocated from National Treasury for this financial year.

"Our budget consists of these two components. That part is being held back, so we do have serious cash flow problems," he said.

The funding shortfall has come about after Eskom pointed out last year that the unit's founding statute did not expressly allow it to invoice state entities for the investigations it conducts.

Capacity


Head of investigations Gerhard Visagie said: "We sought legal opinion and in fact it was confirmed that we are not allowed to bill state institutions. We had been openly doing that for seven or eight years.

"It was rather catastrophic for us. It cut 35% out of our budget."

Visagie said the unit had given notice to some 100 consultants that were working alongside the unit's 600 permanent members.

"May 4 or 5 will be their last day. We hope that the issue can be addressed because ... it is going to seriously affect our capacity."

He said the unit urgently needed an amendment to the legislation to allow it to take remuneration from departments and hoped it would be in place by October.

The SIU's budget was increased by 2.3% in 2012/13, amounting to a reduction in real terms.

MPs from across the political spectrum expressed shock that the SIU's allocation was four times smaller than that of the public protector.

R30bn lost to corruption

Said ANC MP John Jeffery: "I'm not comfortable with this. It is not the same role, these people are collecting money."

He was referring to the misspent state funds the SIU recovered in the course of its work.

The workload of the unit has increased significantly after it received seven new proclamations in recent months, and three long-running investigations were extended.

Among these is a probe into procurement practices in the police force, which was pointing to irregular spending of up to R1.5bn.

Head of strategy Zola Ntolosi said: "There are definite indications of irregularity in this regard and this will probably produce significant results."

The former head of the SIU, Willie Hofmeyr, estimated last year that up to R30bn in state funds was lost to corruption annually.

The unit said on Friday this estimate still held true.

Comments
  • Kala - 2012-04-20 16:09

    I guess the ANC didn't realise that there are dedicated people out there willing to root out those who are guilty of stealing from the citizens. They couldn't silence you with threats or bribes so now they will dry up the funding.

      Morne - 2012-04-20 18:09

      Corruption is seriously dampering development in SA. We are moving backwards instead of forward. Its time for a change in government!

      Godfrey - 2012-04-20 20:59

      And the Govt say it is serious about rooting out corruption, now we know just how serious they are.

  • Thebe - 2012-04-20 16:09

    If you look closely, you will find that there is a link between people who are supposed to make funds available and the ones that are being investigated.

  • Randomhero6661 - 2012-04-20 16:10

    Intervention from the top or a cover up story either or, zuma is gonna have a good wedding.

  • Elkita - 2012-04-20 16:15

    I cannot understand.the anc just ask for money every day.Where is all the stolen money.

      Morne - 2012-04-20 18:12

      Somewhere stashed, as an early retirement fund!

  • Rob - 2012-04-20 16:29

    The only way this unit is going to get the funds it needs is by paying kickbacks!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Shirley - 2012-04-20 16:30

    30 billion!!!!!-gone! NOw they hold back funds so it cannot be "found". Just when you think these gravyfloaters cant sink lower,theyshow us they can! We are in serious trouble. Most people battle to support a family with 1 wife-but certain folk manage just fine with many!!!!

      George - 2012-04-20 17:22

      The fact that the SKA hasn't gone to SA speaks volumes of what the world really thinks of RSA (in its new guise). I've wondered why Mandela keeps quite, now with SCAMRAL, et al, it is quite obvious. The poor man must be speechless.

  • George - 2012-04-20 17:19

    That's how the government punishes the true public servants, by cutting their allocation, or not allocating at all. The final weapon of corrupt officialdom is the purse string.

  • Nigel - 2012-04-20 17:24

    now why does that not surprise me

  • Sharon - 2012-04-20 18:23

    Once again the government came up to the perfect solution to a niggling problem. How do you prevent the SIU from investigating corruption? Why, you cut their funding! Brilliant!!!!!

  • Mike Purchase - 2012-04-21 13:33

    Stop whining everyone and do something,i have some great ideas of which i am not going to share publicly.

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