Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2001-01-22 Reporter: Editor: Sapa

Mandela Didn't Reprimand Me, Says Heath 

Publication  Independent Online
Date 2001-01-22
Editor Sapa
Web Link

Special Investigating Unit head Judge Willem Heath on Monday rejected newspaper reports that former President Nelson Mandela lashed out at him in a telephone call because Mandela had been linked to corruption charges in the R43-billion arms deal.

Heath, who was being interviewed on Radio 702, said Mandela had not called him about the detailed diagrams or organograms gathered by intelligence agents. The diagrams apparently link the former president and various other ministers to companies involved in the deal.

President Thabo Mbeki received the organograms on Friday before he excluded Heath from the investigation and accused him of losing control.

Mbeki ignored a unanimous parliamentary recommendation, reinforced by public pressure, to include Heath in the investigation.

Mbeki ignored a unanimous parliamentary recommendation

The programme to buy four corvettes and three submarines from companies in Germany, 30 light utility helicopters from Agusta in Italy, up to 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainers from Britain, up to 28 Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft from Sweden and a further 12 Hawks and 19 Gripen to be bought later, has been dogged by charges of corruption.

A number of politicians and government officials are suspected by opposition parties of receiving kickbacks from the foreign arms consortium behind the deal.

Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia De Lille, who initiated the investigation, threatened to take the government to court over the decision and reported receiving death threats warning her against her insistence on Heath's inclusion.

Heath refused to provide certain information to Mbeki and Justice Minister Penuell Maduna saying it "would jeopardise the investigation, lead to victimisation of whistle-blowers and threaten the lives of potential witnesses".

Mbeki's reasons for excluding Heath from the investigation included the fact that the SIU was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court on November 28 last year.

'There is no way they would want me back again'

He said he could not allow a situation where an organ appointed by and accountable to the executive refused to accept the authority of the executive to continue.

The investigation would be conducted by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the Auditor-General and the Public Protector.

Heath said in the interview that his was an independent unit and was not employed by Mbeki.

He said interpretations by "some institutions" that the unit was unconstitutional were incorrect.

The Constitutional Court, Heath said, despite ruling that the SIU could not be headed by a judge, had spelt out that the unit could continue its work until the legislation was amend.

Heath said he did not want to be back on the arms investigation.

He said there had been so much mudslinging that he would have to consider his options very carefully. "Anyhow, there is no way they would want me back again," he said.

Heath said he would seek other employment, most likely in the investigation field.

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Independent Online.