Nehawu ‘won’t disrupt’ SIU

2011-07-16 17:29

Fikile Majola, general-secretary of the National Health, Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), says his union’s members won’t be allowed to “disrupt” the anti-corruption work of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

This comes after claims were made this week that some Nehawu members in the SIU may be used by rogue businesspeople under investigation by the unit to divide and unsettle serious corruption probes.

The SIU was not unionised before last year, when Nehawu signed up staff nationally.

It emerged this week that a Nehawu member has laid criminal charges against SIU head Willie Hofmeyr relating to a R14 million refurbishment tender.

City Press was told by sources in the unit this week there is a firm belief among certain members that “outside forces” are influencing Nehawu members to disrupt the unit’s work.

According to an SIU spokesperson, the unit is “aware that people who are the subject of our investigations may seek to undermine our efforts, but we do not have specific information about this allegation”.

The SIU described its relationship with Nehawu as “positive”. Majola said Nehawu won’t be abused by corrupt individuals to disturb the work of the SIU.

“Fortunately we are a national union. It is possible that one or two of our members may be manipulated by elements, but those members can’t act on their own. We will not be used by others. When matters are taken up it is by the union, not individuals.”

Majola said he had “absolute confidence” in Hofmeyr and thought he was doing a good job, but when claims are made they should be investigated.

“We must protect the integrity of the SIU, but we’re not going to retreat simply because people say we are falling into the agenda of others.

“Indeed, people may be using Nehawu members to destabilise the SIU, but they must know the unions will not be their friends. If we discover we were manipulated from the outside, we will expose them too,” Majola said.

The National Prosecuting Authority confirmed this week it was looking at a case docket against Hofmeyr.

The allegation involves a tender of R11 million to refurbish and revamp the Silverton offices which became too small to accommodate the growing staff component of the unit.

City Press has learned that after the contract was awarded to Belela Construction, the unit was informed that the initial plan to clean and re-use the ceiling boards would not be possible and all the ceilings and lights had to be replaced.

Relying on provisions made in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) to add additional work to a standing tender, another R3 million was added to replace the ceilings, lights and skirting boards.

After he became aware of the claims against him, Hofmeyr asked PricewaterhouseCoopers to review the contract.

“The key finding of the PwC report was that the awarding of the second contract for the additional refurbishment work was not irregular, and the report was submitted to the audit committee (of the SIU), which accepted it,” Hofmeyr said.

He was supported this week by Veronica MarshSmit, the SIU’s former chief financial officer, who was also implicated by Nehawu in wrongdoing.

“Two or three days after the contractor started, they realised they couldn’t re-use the ceiling boards and had to replace them and the lights. We looked at the PFMA and did everything according to the law,” she said.

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