Zuma fires Willie Hofmeyr
Adriaan Basson and Carien du Plessis, City Press
Johannesburg - Former judge Willem Heath has made a stunning comeback as head of the special investigating unit (SIU) after President Jacob Zuma fired incumbent Willie Hofmeyr this afternoon.
In a statement released by Zuma's spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, the president said the decision was to "strengthen the institutional capacity to fight crime and corruption. The appointment is with immediate effect.”
Hofmeyr, who had been wearing two hats for a number of years, will remain as head of the asset forfeiture unit (AFU) in the national prosecuting authority (NPA).
Heath previously headed the SIU before the Constitutional Court ruled in 2000 that a judge could not head an investigating unit.
He subsequently resigned as a judge and returned to work as an advocate at his private forensic investigations firm.
Heath was instrumental in the original arms deal investigation before he left the SIU.
Ironically, Zuma, as head of government business, signed a letter at the time, excluding Heath from the formal arms deal inquiry.
Heath made a comeback to the Zuma inner circle around the ANC's national conference in Polokwane, when he assisted the president with his strategy to have corruption charges against him dropped.
In his statement, Zuma praised Hofmeyr for the work he had done at the SIU.
"Under the leadership of Mr Hofmeyr the two units have made a significant contribution in the fight against crime.
"It has now become necessary to further strengthen our capacity by placing each of these two units under separate commands.
"The strengthening of the units at leadership level will improve government's response to the growing crime syndicates, more sophisticated means of committing crimes and the ever growing threat of cyber crime.
"It will help us in furthering our objective of dealing decisively with crime and corruption, one of government’s five priorities," Zuma said.