SIU to get more teeth to tackle civil cases

2019-02-08 18:44

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The process of getting the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) its own dedicated court before the end of March, when its financial year ends, is at an advanced stage

The unit currently only makes recommendations to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) about which individuals or companies linked to government or government officials should be prosecuted, based on the said parties' involvements in irregularities.

It does, however, have the power to sue on behalf of the state or its entities as well as to retrieve money from irregular payments.

One such case is that of former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The unit has started work to recoup almost R33m on behalf of the cash-strapped public broadcaster and the government.

The SIU has previously said that R21.7m of this amount would possibly be retrieved from Motsoeneng himself.

Speedier resolution of cases

A portion of that amount was money paid as an illegal succession fee and a further R10.2m for illegal appointments and dismissals at the public broadcaster. 

READ: SIU sues Giyani water contractors for R2.2bn

SIU spokesperson Nazreen Pandor told News24 that the SIU was "engaging the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development regarding the establishment of the special tribunal", and that the process was at an advanced stage.

"The establishment of the special tribunal will mean that the SIU has access to a dedicated court for the speedier resolution of civil cases initiated, based on evidence obtained during its investigations," said Pandor.

In 2009, the SIU finalised a report into alleged tender rigging involving Bosasa directors and CEO Gavin Watson and the Department of Correctional Services.

Bosasa had allegedly bribed former prisons boss Linda Mti and the department's chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham, to secure four tenders between 2004 and 2007 worth roughly R1.5bn, including the supply of televisions and fencing at prisons around the country, the SIU found.The SIU report was handed over to the NPA in 2010 and a docket was registered at the same time.

Bosasa arrests

Eight years after the NPA and the Hawks were first presented with the report, prosecutors announced in January this year that they were ready to take the matter to court.

This was followed by arrests, including that of former Bosasa employees Angelo Agrizzi, Andries van Tonder, Frans Vorster, current Bosasa staff member Carlos Bonafacio, Gillingham and Mti. They appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court earlier this week.

They were charged with corruption, money laundering and fraud. They were each released on R20 000 bail.

READ: Ex-correctional services boss Linda Mti out on R20 000 bail

If the SIU has its way, the wait for prosecution will be reduced drastically once recommendations have been made.

Pandor said although the unit would now seek to investigate cases faster, "timelines will be determined according to the scope and complexity of an investigation once proclaimed by the president".

"In the case of complex investigations, the SIU will provide an interim report on progress to the president," Pandor added.

READ MORE: SIU recovered only R34m out of R299m for the state

The SIU is tasked with investigating allegations and collating evidence regarding acts or omissions relevant to investigations within state organs and departments.

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Michael Masutha has assured the agency that work is underway to have the tribunal operational.

"To ensure that the full impact of the mandate of the SIU is felt by all, in the financial year under review, SIU management identified the need to re-establish a special tribunal centrally located in Gauteng.

"The tribunal will require for the SIU to identify matters that can immediately be heard to act speedily against offenders of maladministration or perpetrators of malpractice in a specialised court," said Masutha in the annual SIU report.

In the current financial year, the unit has already referred 148 matters for criminal prosecution to the NPA.

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Read more on:    bosasa  |  siu  |  sabc  |  crime
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