Publication: SABC News Issued: Date: 2001-01-22 Reporter: Editor:

Heath Back to Work as Usual After Mbeki's Decision

Publication SABC News
Date 2001-01-22
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Judge Willem Heath is back at work as head of the special investigative unit after a weekend of reports on allegations between the government, the unit and members of parliament. This follows a decision by President Thabo Mbeki to exclude the unit from the multi-billion rand arms deal probe.

The president's decision was said to have been influenced by two organograms which implicated senior government officials in the defence contracts. Heath says that he doesn't know where the president got his information from and that he has no grounds to suspect ex-president Nelson Mandela and president Thabo Mbeki of corruption.

Mbeki said the reason for excluding the unit from the arms deal probe was that there was no 'prima facie' evidence that any person(s) had commited a criminal offence. This was from a report done by advocate Jan Lubbe.

When asked to comment on the much announced phone call to Nelson Mandela last Thursday, and Thabo Mbeki's accusation of him going to extraordinary lengths to "tout for work", Heath dismissed the phone call as a simple and private discussion that had nothing to do with the case. He says that he is looking for work and was hoping that Mandela would be his reference, which he agreed to do.

He also adds that he is sorry that he chose last Thursday to phone Mandela, although he had been waiting a long time to phone him. The phone call was not an exercise to win Heath support from Mandela.

"I am not touting for work because I've represented so many individuals and institutions who wanted me to apply for approximation."

Heath is to continue to working as head of the unit until the legislation is amended.

With acknowledgement to SABC News.