Publication: Sunday Times Issued: Date: 2001-01-28 Reporter: Editor:

Heath Stabbed in Back by Staff

Publication  Sunday Times
Date 2001-01-28
Reporter Ranjeni Munusamy
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JUDGE Willem Heath's subordinates in the Special Investigating Unit this week sent a letter to President Thabo Mbeki, asking him to distinguish between the head of the unit and the position of "loyal" members.

The letter, written by Marthinus Rheeder, one of the unit's managers, said its members were loyal citizens who "worked very hard, and will continue to do so, to assist the state in its fight against corruption".

It added: "The members are loyal to you, our president. We accept that the unit is an organ of the state and can only act in accordance with the provisions of Act 74 of 1996.

"We further accept that the unit was created by government as an important tool in the fight against corruption. We trust that we will be able to continue with this important function ," the letter reads.

" We respectfully request you to distinguish between the position of Judge Heath, as head of the unit, and the position of members of the unit.

"We will do everything necessary to assist the government to comply with the decision of the Constitutional Court and to effect the necessary amendments to [the Act]."

Unit spokesman Naomi Goodley said there was " consensus that while Judge Heath's loss would be deeply felt", others should stay on and continue to fight corruption.

She said the 100-odd members of the unit were "very confused" by the controversy over the Heath unit's involvement in investigating the R43billion arms procurement deal.

A copy of the letter was sent to Justice Minister Penuell Maduna. His spokesman Paul Setsetse said Maduna had "taken note" of the request by the members of the Heath unit and "will respond to them in due course".

With acknowledgements to Ranjeni Munusamy and the Sunday Times.