Heath: Quitting was right

2011-12-20 11:51

Durban - Former judge Willem Heath has broken his silence, saying his dramatic resignation last week as the head of the Special Investigating Unit was the right thing to do.

In a letter e-mailed to political parties represented in Parliament, trade unions and The Witness, he said the unit was one of the most important institutions to support and develop South Africa’s democracy.

The unit and the country’s interests were therefore more important than his own.

Heath said events of the past fortnight had created the impression that he was unable to head the SIU independently.

He was thus “ethically bound” to resign from the post due to “the doubt created in the public eye”.


Referring to reported comments in the City Press newspaper, that riled among others, former president Thabo Mbeki and ex-NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, Heath said: “Correct or not, the initial media coverage of an interview in which I participated left the impression that I made unqualified statements of political events which may be unbecoming of the head of the SIU.

“In the public domain therefore, such an impression has created much public debate and impression is often as important as fact.”

The role of the SIU head dictated that any South African of whatever political persuasion or belief may approach the unit to investigate any matter.

If the impression was created - correctly or through innuendo - that the head of the unit was not independent enough to deliver on such a mandate “then the SIU and the republic would be better served by me resigning from such a position”.

Heath, who was central to the unit’s establishment under former president Nelson Mandela, reminded parties of his success as the unit’s inaugural head.

“My part in drafting the legislation governing the SIU and my well-known history of heading the SIU without fear or favour makes me adequately experienced and qualified to head the SIU.”

Doubt in public eye

However, he was ethically bound to resign from this position the second time around due to the doubt created in the public eye.

Heath said that corruption was not only a government evil, but was fuelled by the “often unsolicited bribery of government officials by the private sector”.

The collective vision that South Africa would achieve greatness by eradicating corruption and improve service delivery was of fundamental importance.

“It is therefore my sincere hope that this collective vision will allow South Africa to progress to a nation where service delivery and the fundamental rights of South Africans are promoted by effectively combating corruption – a shared vision by government, all political parties and South Africans in general,” said Heath.

It is not clear whether Heath will be re-employed as Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s special adviser.

Heath  heads a consulting service in Cape Town.

Download the letter here.

  • Daft - 2011-12-20 11:55

    Hey Judge....Well done ...dont degrade urself...

  • Grant - 2011-12-20 12:02

    Thank you for setting an example that the politicians should take note of. I just wish zoomer and others would also consider themselves "ethically bound" to resign due to the "doubt created in the public eye" and that the "countries interests are more important than his own"

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 12:37

      You are really stupid if you think this will redeem him. For a judge he has no brain and after what he said to the media about Mbeki, I can only come to one conclusion and that he probably was never even fit to be a judge in the first place, let alone head the SIU. When he helped absolve Zuma from his corruption charges, was the day he should have said good bye to politics. This press release makes him look even more stupid than I thought he ever was. By reading your comment, it would seem as if there will now follow a stream of sympathy for the poor old judge, innocent and honourable. He is as rotten as the rest of the Mafia he assisted to run free and run our country!

      Grant - 2011-12-20 13:16 missed the main gist of my post - that the other incompetent and corrupt 'public servants' would mimic him and b#gger off. I am in no way sympathetic with Heath, just grateful he has cleared off.

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 13:23

      Sorry Grant, I'm all fired up again this morning. I see anything related to the arms deal and I turn into a raging bull! You are right, I read it again and I am a bit calmer now!

      Grant - 2011-12-20 13:32

      @Ihbubesi. No bother mate. Have read a lot of your posts and you have regularly put my thoughts into better words that that which I am capable of. I had a rant on another post myself, the red rag to this bull is perpetrators having more rights than victims!

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 14:15

      @Grant. What I am about to say might be very unfair to many capable men over 60, but in our country, part of the problem is the fact that we are run by all of these men over 60 who were all part of Apartheid, both black and white. Too much of what happens in this country is still based on correcting the wrongs of Apartheid and has resulted in Apartheid living on in some obscene manner. If the governance were to be handed over to the younger generation, then we would be able to make decisions based on a true democratic bill of rights, and not a reverse of the worst bill of rights inhuman history. I will stand by by my view that the ANC hasn't proven to me that they fought for my freedom, because all I see is stealing from 1994 till today. We need a free South Africa, run by people with expertise and wisdom. The mess we sit with today can hardly be called freedom. The weak leadership of the ANC is now resulting in their own demise. To an extent, I'm pleased. My reservation is the following. The ANC has done too little for the downtrodden and they still outnumber the few fortunate that raided the state coffers. Who is seeing this great opportunity and who will be our next leaders and be even more corrupt than the ones we have now?

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-20 18:22

      But the young okes most likely to have clout are the ANCYL rogues, so not much difference in terms of self interest to the 60+ okes Leeu?

  • Azande - 2011-12-20 12:15

    At least you did the most difficult to others...."resigning for the sake of the nation". I commend you Heath.

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 12:24

      Come on Azande. You don't really believe this load of rubbish? First you assisted the President to get rid of his own corruption charges, resulting in one of the biggest arms deal benefactors (Shaik) to get off the hook, then you expect the "public" to embrace you as head of the SIU and now you write this to clear your name after making the statements he did about Mbeki? I must now trust him? I don't think so.

      Azande - 2011-12-20 12:37

      @ibhubesi, I understand where you coming from. I am just happy that he is out of the office, not to say i trust Heath.

      Sidima - 2011-12-20 12:38

      Well done to the public for applying enough pressure for the judge to consider resigning from such an influential position. I would’ve love to see the ANC at least defending the former president form Heath’s unqualified utterances. Spineless the Lot.!!! We’re still waiting for him to apologise to President Mbeki

      Monde - 2011-12-20 13:00

      no he did not resign he had no option, but resign. he did nothing honourable.

  • Mluu Bhele Magubane - 2011-12-20 12:26

    I wish our politician were like you, but they put themselves 1st. Zuma shuld have done it, cele, malema, shiceka, mbeki, etc etc, sa would be nice

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 12:41

      He is your politician. Forget his colour. Do you think it is only blacks involved in all this corruption?

      Mluu Bhele Magubane - 2011-12-20 12:52

      d race has nothing to do with this. I just named d corrupt people i knw. When r we gonna stop this race card thing?

      Monde - 2011-12-20 13:03

      come on Mluu how can you believe this man is being honourable. Zuma let him loose in that interview and the moment that happened, he had no foothold, he had to go. the man is not even a judge, fellows. he is a former state advocate and a lowly judge in the ciskei

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 13:11

      You said "our politician", you and I are the same colour, so you were talking about our politicians when wrote the names down. I didn't see any white names there and you were giving a white judge the praising. Excuse me for reading you wrong. But the way I read your comment, in my stupidity I assumed you wished our politicians were as innocent as the white ones. And if you think race isn't an issue in this country, try and get a decent job without being a BEE placement. You will be mightily surprised just how stupid we blacks are to white people. Try it for yourself! Been there, done it.

      Mluu Bhele Magubane - 2011-12-20 13:26

      well if i knew other white politicians i would have put them on d list but i dont know any from DA, yes im a anc but i cannot pretend that Malema n Zuma are not corrupt. I have a job that im qualified for, so I competed with black n white guys for it so i believe i got it based on my skills, qualification etc I dont consider my self a bee placement. If you experience racism in ur company doesnt mean that my company is the same. people r different, u get racist whites n racist blacks u also get non racist blacks/ whites. Sa belongs to all of us lets stop putting race in everything, corruption doesnt see d colour

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 13:41

      @Mluu. I like that reply. That sounds like a man with head screwed on right. Just don't vote those same corrupt leaders back into power please.

  • Garth - 2011-12-20 12:35

    `It is not clear whether Heath will be re-employed as Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s special adviser.' Nooooo! Don't take the position! You have only just gained a smidgin of credibility with this; don't become an anc `butty-boy' under jeff `the truth' radebe.

  • Xclusivdj - 2011-12-20 12:37

    Whatever Heath, you said what Zuma wanted you to tell us.....

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 12:44

      Thumbs Up for you. But the trick didn't work. Wonder if the "forfeited" pension benefits will now be adjusted?

      Azande - 2011-12-20 12:56

      @ibhubesi, its still early bro. don't say it didn't work. I feel that this is a well calculated move and things are happening as planned. I have a feeling that JZ wants a revenge but he does not want to openly instigate that himslelf. The things that Heath said are still gonna "blow" watch the space.

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 13:01

      You have a point Azande. Trouble is will this country ever trust anything Heath says again? We all know EVERYBODY was in on the arms deal, even Mandela's wife from Mozambique, so do we really care? What matters is we need to get rid of all of them and for once give this country the right to be what it should have been a 100 years ago. Imagine we could cut the last 100 out of history books and start over.

      Azande - 2011-12-20 13:16

      hahahaha Ibhubesi. the fact is JZ is injecting a lethal poison in the ANC veins and it is succumbing to a slow "natural-like death”. The thing now is, do we wait, fold our arms and trhow stones from a distances or do we forge forward and fight for the sake of our children?

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 13:31

      @Azande. We have to fight. I refuse to live in anything as pathetic as Zimbabwe. So we have no option. Through educating our kids, we will create a better place for them. The tin towns will be with us for a long time and so will the culture of free houses. You and I sitting here blogging from the comforts of our arm chairs are protesting, while others are worried if there will be anything to eat for Christmas. The divide between our reality and theirs is growing bigger by the day, and we need to stop the erosion of our people at the hands of these uneducated leaders we have now.

  • Con - 2011-12-20 12:51

    Resigning is the honourable thing to do and he should at least be commended for that, but spare us the " rightly or wrongly" story. His statements were not out of context, and if the impresiion of bias was "wrongly" created, it should be easy to set it right. You made silly, biased statements unbecoming of a person who is supposed to head such an important investigative unit, and had no choice other than to resign. Of course, almost every other leader in our government should resign as well, but that is another matter.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-20 12:59

    Heath the public doubt was always there my boy, the problem was you opening your mouth something you should have know better than doing. AAs they say no use crying over milk and all the rest, but at least you acted decisively and without hesitation which can only reflect in your favour.

  • Mphotent - 2011-12-20 13:46

    Heath has lost his credibility by attempting to create infighting amongst Black South African's that was very unethical to do. African can never take their blood and sell to "enemy of the past". We live in a free racial Africa and that does not exclude our will as African's, as for Heath, should have thought twice...African leadership is more than Euoropean style of leading, it has strong management flair something distinguishing Black African's from any other(s).

      Bongani - 2011-12-20 14:33

      Have some more "home brew", it is Christmas. We will forgive you for this intoxicated post!

      Blade - 2011-12-20 14:37

      I think you mean strong corruption flair?

  • Deeteem - 2011-12-20 13:58

    Not rocket science to see that you backed the wrong horse here Willem and got burnt !!

  • Tebalo - 2011-12-20 14:42

    Bhubesi you're a breath of fresh air and you tell it like it is;I had given up' thinking coz "our" so-called politicians are numbskulls we're doomed.You've given me hope ,we still have brains in this country! Way to go.

  • Dex - 2011-12-20 16:21

    If you can't stand the Heath, get out of the kitchen. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that). What's this? A politician resigning because of bad behavior? Surely a first for our nation. Hopefully not the last.

  • Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-20 18:18

    Fair enough, the private sector bribes the cretins, but its the only choice they have as with these okes its back hand or no contract. They're just about all on the take, hardly any of them have the publics interest at heart, its all about self enrichment. For the private sector its adapt or die.

  • Ashley - 2011-12-21 15:44

    Wow! at least one has ethics, very rarely seen in our SA government these days. I doubt the rest of them even know what that means.....

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