Heath Threatened with Controversial Clause
The gloves are off in the protracted battle between the government and Judge Willem Heath.
Adding a new twist to the dispute on Thursday night, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna threatened to use the Criminal Procedure Act's controversial Section 205 to force Heath to hand over evidence on alleged corruption in the R43-billion arms deal.
Justice Ministry spokesperson Paul Setsetse said: "Allegations of corruption regarding the arms deal are continuing to be made, and nobody is coming forward with any evidence of substance. Section 205 empowers the state to demand information withheld by parties if it will assist in a lawful investigation."
The threat came soon after Maduna announced that the Heath Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is to be disbanded once its current work is completed.
'Allegations of corruption ...l are continuing to be made'
Setsetse said the three agencies investigating the deal - the Public Protector, the Investigative Directorate of Serious Economic Offences and the auditor-general - would soon ask Heath to hand over relevant documents to them.
Setsetse said the SIU had no reason to keep the evidence as it had been excluded from the probe.
In another development, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said on Thursday that while the integrity of the arms procurement process could not be faulted, the government could not rule out the possibility that there had been graft, even in the higher echelons of government.
The auditor-general's recent report on the procurement procedure indicated that checks within the process could have been stronger. All the documents involved in the procurement process would be made available for scrutiny by the investigators, Lekota said.
But if there had been secret, corrupt deals between officials and arms contractors, evidence of it would not be found in these documents, he said.
Meanwhile, Auditor-General Shauket Fakie said on Thursday that his office never recommended the SIU be excluded from the probe.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Independent Online.