Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2001-01-04 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Holidaying Heath Rejects Allegations

Publication  Business Day
Date 2001-01-04
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

SPECIAL investigating unit head Judge Willem Heath rejected claims yesterday by national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka that he had made "arrogant" comments about the multi-agency investigation of SA's R43bn arms deal.

Ngcuka had said earlier that Heath had cast aspersions on the independence of the other agencies by allegedly saying the exclusion of the Heath unit from the investigation would negatively affect the integrity of the probe. Speaking yesterday from his Eastern Cape home, where he is on leave, Heath said he had not seen Ngcuka's statements, but had not made any arrogant comments as reported.

There were many aspects to the law, and many remedies in law available to his unit which were not available to the offices of the public protector, the auditor-general and the directorate of public prosecutions. Some aspects of the deal would not be covered by these three agencies. Therefore, the probe's integrity might be questionable" as it might not be complete, he said.

For example, the procurement process and contracts were issues his unit could investigate and apply to the courts to be set aside, which the other agencies could not, Heath said. However, as he had said before, he had a high regard for the investigations conducted by the other agencies in their fields. 

A storm erupted over Heath's participation in the probe, requested by Parliament, after indications that Justice Minister Penuell Maduna would not recommend to President Thabo Mbeki that he issue a proclamation authorising the unit's involvement. 

This resulted in threats by Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille that she would take government to court if the presidential proclamation was not granted. Sapa.

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Business Day.