25 January 2013

South Africa: SIU's Denials Ring Hollow

press release

The statement released by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) today is nothing but a futile attempt to deflect attention from the crisis they are facing.

After the release of my statement yesterday on the rash of resignations from the unit, I was informed that the SIU had denied that Mr Makubela has resigned. Today SIU spokesperson Boy Ndala issued a statement confirming the resignation, but stating that Mr Makubela was an IT specialist, not a senior manager. Mr Ndala questioned our sources, but it would appear that our sources are more accurate than his.

Mr Makubela was a Senior Enterprise Architect who occupied the second highest position in the ITC Department, and was described as a Senior Manager: Strategy.

He may not have cited political reasons in his official resignation, but our reliable information is that this is what he told colleagues in the SIU.

Mr Ndala goes on to say that our information regarding other senior resignations is "baseless and lacks factual information". Well, here is some factual information on the people who have resigned from the SIU since Advocate Mokhatla has been Acting Head:

Warwick Meier - head of Forensic Data Department

Marika Muller - SIU Company Secretary and Acting Head of Communications

Peter Bishop - Acting Projects Director overseeing the core business of the SIU

Clint Oellerman - Senior Programme Manager

Karam Singh - Projects Research Analyst

Sello Makubela - Senior Enterprise Architect

The SIU have claimed that the resignations were the result of people seeking better opportunities, and that all were amicable. They may well have been looking for better opportunities, but so many people do not leave their workplace unless they are unhappy.

In addition to those listed above, Mr Toyo Mnqaba has resigned from the Executive Committee, and Mr Zola Ntolosi left the SIU with effect from 1 January 2013, after being offered a contract at approximately half his salary, which left him no choice but to leave.

Instead of responding with bare denials, the SIU should be reassuring the public that they are addressing the obvious dissatisfaction at the unit. The fact that they have not merely reinforces the perception that they are being denuded of effectiveness, and packed with political cronies to control who and what gets investigated.

The fact that the President has still not weighed in on the matter, and has failed to appoint a permanent head since December 2011, speaks volumes of his stated commitment to fighting corruption.

Debbie Schafer, Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development

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