SIU’s 15-year case backlog

2015-03-09 00:00

THE Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is sitting on investigations that are more than a decade old, leading some to question if they will ever be completed.

Statistics in the possession of The Witness show that a large proportion of cases proclaimed, as far back as 2000, are still waiting to be compiled into reports and submitted to the Presidency.

And sceptics believe this extended period of investigation could mean that actual outcomes, whatever they might be, are for nought.

Since 2000, there have been 88 ­proclamations, from which 37 ­investigations have been completed and submitted to the Presidency, 36 are being finalised and 15 are ongoing.

This is in stark contrast to itsofficial website, which claims that 63 proclamations were ­received during the same period andof that only 11 were completed, with 51 cases ongoing and two suspended.

As of last week, after inquiries were made by The Witness, all investigations were removed from the website.

And The DA believes the lack of proper oversight over the SIU allows the organisation to postpone delivery of investigations, as it is not required by law to tell the national parliamentary justice portfolio committee what it is investigating — “unless they feel like it”.

The extended delay in cases is not because of staff shortages, according to a high-placed source close to the organisation, but rather because the staff are not all based in Pretoria “where the bulk of the work is”.

“Many of the historical investigations are finalised, but the final reports have not been completed. It is difficult to change the direction of state institutions, but we don’t want to destroy it. Really important decisions need to be made.”

The source said that with the extended periods of investigation, the likelihood of recouping any state funds fraudulently gained might become less likely.

The source said the SIU was dealing with “historical issues”, including ­transformation and the changing of its mandate, the most recent being the 2012 Judicial Matters Amendment Act when, in summary, the organisation was given further powers to pursue civil cases.

An example of this is against Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya, who is being sued for R155 million.

According to the SIU, between 2004 and 2012, itthe SIU states it has saved the state R1,1 billion and prevented losses of over R16 billion.

“The SIU has to improve. But in the absence of another corruption-fighting agency, we would rather have what we’ve got than nothing at all,” the source said.

Several questions were sent to the SIU, including whether the unit believes it could successfully prosecute decade-old cases. Its spokesperson, Sefura Mongalo, said: “[The] SIU only needs to update the information on the website to reflect the current status on investigations.”

This, according to the source, is ­precisely one of the “problems”. He claimed that the SIU communications team “feel it is something [updating the website] they don’t need to do”.

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