Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2001-03-07 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Maduna Rejects Heath's "Far-Fetched" Claims

Publication  Independent Online
Date 2001-03-07
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna on Wednesday rejected comments attributed to former Special Investigating Unit head Judge Willem Heath accusing the government of sabotaging the unit. 

Maduna said in a statement that Heath made the accusation during an interview with SABC, where he was quoted as saying that since Maduna took over the portfolio, little or nothing was referred to the unit. 

A transcript of the interview quoted Heath as having said: "...we were actually sort of sabotaged by not receiving proclamations. And then of course the impact of our credibility in the eyes of the public, and we have explained to them it is not our fault, proclamations have not been issued to us. Then eventually the public adopt the attitude that no cases will be investigated because we were not given proclamations." 

Describing the allegation as "far fetched", Maduna questioned the possibility of the government establishing such a unit and then turn around and sabotage its very existence. 

'The ministry has always committed itself to the SIU's work' 

"It will be something ludicrous indeed for any sober-minded person to do. As the ministry responsible for the smooth functioning of the unit, I am surprised, he said. 

The ministry had always committed itself to the SIU's work and, the government had at one stage defended its existence during a legal challenge by some attorneys on its constitutionality, said Maduna. 

Maduna said the government was under no obligation to refer each case to the SIU for investigations. 

There were other agencies in place, including the Auditor-General and the Public Protector who could also investigate similar cases. 

"The question whether to refer a new case to the unit or not was in terms of the act, the president's discretion," he said, adding the allegations puzzled him. 

But Heath's spokesperson Guy Rich said although he did not listen to the interview, he "doubted" if the judge had ever made such claims as the interview in question had been intended to be a "human interest" one. 

With Sapa and Independent Online.