Publication: SABC News Issued: Date: 2001-01-25 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Heath Unit to be Disbanded, Maduna Says

Publication  SABC News
Date 2001-01-25
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

The Special Investigating Unit headed by Judge Willem Heath would be disbanded once it had completed its current work load, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said today.

"Yes, the unit will be disbanded. It's a creature of statehood," said Maduna at the Pretoria Press Club. "When they have concluded the work they are doing, their work is over. That is what the law says."

Maduna also confirmed that Heath had asked to go on long leave. He said the judge was entitled to this after four years of service. "There is nothing irregular about the request."

He said a draft amendment to re-regulate the Heath unit would be put to Cabinet in the next week or two, and would perhaps be passed by Parliament by the end of March.

This amendment is required following a Constitutional Court ruling that it was unconstitutional for a judge to head the unit.

Maduna said such units were appointed for particular purposes. In terms of the law, such units should be disbanded after completing their task, unless the tenure was extended by the president.

This meant that the life of the Heath unit would also come to an end once it had completed its current workload. Only a decision by the president to give an investigating unit more work could extend its lifetime beyond its current brief.

President Thabo Mbeki yesterday said he would opt not to give the Heath unit new cases in view of its workload at the moment. It would be wiser to appoint other ad hoc units, Mbeki said.

Maduna threatened to use Section 205 of the Criminal Procedures Act on Heath if he refused to hand over documentation to the three agencies charged with probing the R43bn arms deal.

Maduna was referring to documentation relating to the case the nature of which has not been disclosed. Heath was last year handed the documentation by PAC MP Patricia de Lille. Maduna said if the documentation is not handed over, subpoenas would be issued.

With acknowledgement to Sapa and SABC News.