The Special Investigating Unit briefed the Portfolio Committee on its 2018/19 Annual Report and provided updates on current cases of concern to the Committee.
The Special Investigating Unit emphasised the importance of consequence management in managing administrative misconduct and corruption. The Special Tribunal legislation and regulations had been gazetted. The Unit had several cases which would be heard at the Special Tribunal. With the approval of the Chief Justice, some cases already in court would be moved to the Special Tribunal. The National Anti-Corruption Strategy had been finalised and was being checked by a reference group. The intention was to assist government departments to prevent corruption.
24 proclamations had been issued during the period under review. 20 Presidential Reports had been submitted. The Special Investigating Unit presented lists of ongoing investigations into departments at all levels of government and into state-owned enterprises. It also provided lists of investigations that had been finalised and were in court. The Special Investigating Unit reported that in its investigation into court buildings, it had found that four out of eight courts had been constructed but the budget of R3 billion had been depleted.
To address inefficiencies, the Special Investigating Unit had been through a restructuring process which had not been without difficulties, despite the fact that there had been discussions with staff and unions beforehand. There had been a 1% retrenchment rate but 100 employees were unhappy and some had gone to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
The unit had attained a clean audit with no qualifications. The unit received 60% of its budget from National Treasury and the cash inflow from cost-recovery activities accounted for the remaining 40%. However, the financial structure had to be reviewed as many government departments and entities did not, or could not, pay for services rendered.
The Special Investigating Unit spearheaded the corruption prevention sector of the Anti-Corruption Task Team and had created the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum as an outcome of the Presidential Health Summit. It had been established to combat, prevent and refer allegations and matters reported from the Health Sector for investigation.
Members had many questions for the Special Investigating Unit. Was it not the responsibility of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to report on the Tribunal? The prevention of corruption was one of the Unit’s roles but Members queried its role in a lifestyle audit for the Department of Public Works. Should that be seen as a function of the Special Investigating Unit? Had there been any engagements with National Treasury to ask that departments and municipalities budget for Special Investigating Unit engagements? What was the situation regarding referrals to the National Prosecuting Authority?
What was the status of the investigation into the electronic monitoring system at the Department of Correctional Services? What were the turnaround times for investigations? Was the Anti-Corruption Task Team operating well? What was the link between the Unit and the Auditor-General’s office and was there any link between the Unit and state capture at the Zondo Commission?
The Standard Operating Procedures and Organisation Review had been deferred by management. Why had they done so? The bulk of the unit was in the professional and skilled levels but all unskilled workers were women and were African. Were those women getting bursaries? Was the previously reported on internship programme active as yet? How many people living with disability were employed in the Unit? Finally, what about the performance bonuses? Was there a performance system or did people in the Unit just give themselves bonuses?
The Committee needed a report on the issue of the State Attorneys very urgently as that investigation dealt with corruption that implicated members of the legal profession.
The Chairperson welcomed the members of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and thanked the Unit for waiting for the Committee to complete its work with the National Prosecuting Authority.
The Head of the SIU presented his team: Mr Andre Gernandt CFO, Head of Strategy and Monitoring Mr Zipho Mguli, Chief Human Capital Officer Ms Neptune Mashego, Chief Legal Counsel Jerome Wells and Chief Audit Executive Ms Boaratwe Leshope.
Briefing by the Special Investigating Unit
Adv Andy Mothibi, Head, SIU, emphasised the importance of consequence management in managing administrative misconduct and corruption. The Special Tribunal legislation had been gazetted and the regulations had been gazetted on 18 September 2019. The Unit had several cases which would be heard at the Special Tribunal. With the approval of the Chief Justice, some cases that were already in court would be moved to the Tribunal.
The stakeholders survey showed that the Unit was on track and the survey was being used to inform plans. The Unit had never signed individual employee performance management agreements but performance agreements were being put into place and employees had to declare interests.
A new unit would be involved in the prevention of corruption. The National Anti-Corruption Strategy had been finalised and was being checked by a reference group. The intention was to assist government departments to prevent corruption.
24 proclamations had been issued during the period under review. 20 Presidential Reports had been submitted. Adv Mothibi presented the list of ongoing investigations into departments at all levels of government and into state-owned enterprises. He also provided a list of investigations that had been finalised and were currently in court.
The restructuring of the SIU had not been without difficulties, despite the fact that there had been discussions with staff and unions beforehand. Nevertheless, management had been accused of gender discrimination and so on but each complaint had been referred to the appropriate body, i.e. the CCMA, the Labour Court and the Gender Commission, etc. Adv Mothibi was absolutely certain that every case had been dealt with objectively and according to procedure so he had no concerns about the upcoming processes.
Ms Neptune Mashego, Chief Human Capital Officer, SIU, presented the report on the human resources. 254 members had been trained. 45 LLB graduate learners had been absorbed. Those who were currently studying, especially the learners, were able to study online instead of attending classes. R392 million was spent on wages in 2018/19 and 38% of senior management positions were filled by women. There was still a need to bring in African females in the middle management level.
Mr Andre Gernandt, CFO, SIU, announced that the unit had attained a clean audit with no qualifications. The financial statements included a provision for impairment as required by GRAP. SIU had been permitted to retain nett assets of R575 million. The CFO informed the Committee that a Government grant paid 60% of the costs of running the SIU. The cash inflow from cost-recovery activities accounted for the remaining 40%.
The SIU spearheaded the corruption prevention sector of the Anti-Corruption Task Team. The SIU had created a health sector corruption forum. The Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum (HSACF) was an outcome of the Presidential Health Summit. It had been established to combat, prevent and refer allegations and matters reported from the Health Sector for investigation. The HSACF was supported by a steering committee that sat regularly to assess the reported cases while the HSACF would sit on a quarterly basis as per its terms of reference.
Mr W Horn (DA) thanked the SIU for the briefing. He hoped that the Special Tribunal would assist in the speedy resolution of cases. The Committee and its predecessor had long fought for the re-introduction of the Tribunal. He had gained the impression that there were litigants who would challenge the independence of the Special Tribunal. When the regulations were published, the media had reported that the Tribunal would be tasked with the recovery of money. He believed that the task of the Tribunal was to establish facts and determine, on the facts, whether money was due to the state. The SIU had reported on the developments in respect of the Special Tribunal, but who was responsible for the administration of the Tribunal? Was it not the responsibility of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) to report on the Tribunal? He believed that going forward, only the DoJ&CD should report on the Special Tribunal to maintain the integrity of that body and to avoid the current concerns about the independence of the Tribunal.
Mr Horn asked about the lifestyle audit of the Department of Public Works by the SIU as announced by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services in Parliament. He asked whether it was indeed the case and, if so, how did the SIU see it as its mandate? The presentation had indicated that the SIU saw the prevention of corruption as one of its roles, but a lifestyle audit was a different thing and he wondered whether it should be seen as an SIU function.
The clean audit was good news but Mr Horn noted the irregular expenditure in that there had been an overpayment of two employees, one of whom had left and from whom the overpayment was being recouped. What was happening about considering the monies owed by the current employee? Regarding the updating of the current funding model and that the recovery was only at 25%, had there been any movement in respect of the funding model? Had there been any engagements with National Treasury to ask that departments and municipalities budget for SIU engagement?
Mr Horn asked about case-ready documents. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) been drawn up with the previous National Director for Public Prosecution (NDPP) but there had been problems with the MoU and seeing that there was a new NDPP, the MoU was to be redrafted. What was the situation there regarding referrals to the NPA?
Adv G Breytenbach (DA) referred to the investigation into the new courts programme. The SIU had stated that four out of eight courts had been constructed but the budget of R3 billion had been depleted – 50% of the courts had been built but the budget had been depleted. She wanted to know the status as she wished to take up the matter with the DoJ&CD when they briefed the Committee the following day. There had been a substantial increase in security costs from the previous financial year. What was the reason for the substantial increase? What was the status of the Electronic monitoring system at the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) so that she could take that up with DoJ&CD?
Adv Breytenbach stated that the vacancy rate in the top management was unclear as it seemed to differ from 12% to no vacancies. She asked for the response in writing as she wanted a comprehensive explanation of the performance management system in the SIU.
Mr Q Dyantyi (ANC) welcomed the report that had been more than an hour long. He started on the cosmetics of the report. He had a problem with the small font. He had raised the point in July but the Unit persisted with it. Perhaps it was intended to discourage people from reading it. Secondly, the report was too colourful. It was so colourful that some headings could not be read. Black and white was good. It seemed like there was a competition of programmes to see which had the better colour. He asked about the “Chiefs” in the staff. Were they Chief Directors or Deputy Directors-General?
Mr Dyantyi indicated that he would not be referring to the presentation but to the hard copy of the Report itself.
SIU Annual Report 2018/19 – Report document
He asked for the turnaround times. The point was made that people complained about the turnaround times being too slow but he could not find the actual turnaround times in the Report.
P6 MOU with Financial Management Centre: Had the Centre helped the SIU at all and if so, in what way?
P19 – 21 Administration: The presentation on the Programme was not helpful as it was very inconsistent. Where there should be a percentage for performance, there was not a percentage but an explanation of how the situation would be corrected. That was not an achievement. The other Programmes had included percentages but they were all reports from the same institution. It was not possible to compare achievements. There were too many inconsistencies. Had Adv Mothibi checked the Report before it had been printed?
Human resources, which SIU called Human Capital
P65 para 2 and 3: he could not follow the point. In one point it stated that the letter of replacement was issued by a particular date but the next point stated that consultations followed once employees had been placed. It was confusing. Had employees been placed before they knew what they would earn?
The Head of Human Capital had said that the organisation was in a good space but he asked about the 111 SIU employees who had received bursaries. To whom had bursaries been given? He thought that bursaries had not been given to unskilled and semi-skilled workers but to other levels. The placements in the restructuring had not helped the SIU to correct the gender imbalance. Women made up 7% of senior management. Males and females were almost equal in the organisation – 271 males and 261 females, but only 7% females were in SMS. That was not good. The SIU had to help him understand that. The bulk of the unit was in the professional and skilled levels but all unskilled workers were women and were African. Were those women getting bursaries?
P68: Turnover rate per category. He could congratulate the Unit on its retention of staff. The use of the word “coloured” disturbed Mr Dyantyi. He asked the SIU not to use the term “coloured” or “people of colour”. Everyone who was not white, had been a “person of colour” under apartheid.
P70 Misconduct and Disciplinary hearing: He asked for details of the case withdrawn. What were the seven grievances lodged after not being resolved? Then there were nine complaints. Were those from the restructuring?
P71 – Training costs. Who needed more quality training? Those who had to be uplifted were not getting proper training but he thought that top management was getting quality training. Was he right?
P 72 – 306 people had benefitted from the training. The SIU had used consultants for the restructuring but had not reported on the use of consultants.
Finance –debt recovery was only 25%. Was there a problem with debt recovery?
Irregular expenditures: irregular expenditure was the payment of salaries above the correct level. People had been paid above their salary level. How was that possible? Could the CFO please explain that?
Adv H Mohamed (ANC) recalled that previously, the Unit had spoken about challenges regarding clearing debt. Had there been progress? There had also been a challenge regarding the Anti-Corruption Task Team. Was that forum operating well?
Ms N Maseko-Jele (ANC) congratulated the team on the clean audit report. Some of her questions had already been asked. She asked about the retrenchment. Her colleagues had asked about issues impacting on women. Were those who faced retrenchment not women? Ms Mashego should not work hard at bringing in women – she should just bring them in.
Ms Maseko-Jele asked about the invoices that had not been paid within 30 days. Could Adv Mothibi be clear about that? He said in the Foreword that most of the corruption was with officials on the municipal level but very little of that corruption was coming through. Some of the issues were small but together they were a big thing. The summary of civil litigation showed that some of the cases dated back to 2014. The country was at a point where corruption was out of hand. Where was SIU in that? How come the country was in the mess it was?
Ms J Mofokeng (ANC) said she had been covered regarding training by Mr Dyantyi but was worried because the SIU said it was working on disability but there was no target. Training was mainly for males and not for people with disability. During the presentation, Adv Mothibi had spoken about allegations that had been raised. The Members had received copies of the information and the issues were damning because the internal allegations were really disturbing, so what about the external allegations? It was damaging to the organisation’s image. The women had written to the President, the Minister, the Gender Commission and all that. Could Adv Mothibi explain why the SIU had such problems when it should be above all of that.
Ms Mofokeng had questions about the bursaries. How many women had been given bursaries in the forensic training? The Committee wanted to see more women in the legal section as women were not corruptible. One just had to look at the Zondo Commission. The SIU had just placed people but the issue regarding women remained. She agreed with Ms Maseko-Jele that Members could not just remain silent. She had heard from other departments that the SIU did not work with others. The SIU had to clean up its mess. In addition, she had expected the presentation to contain a list of key challenges. There was no way that a department would not have challenges.
Adv T Mulaudzi (EFF) asked about the link between the Unit and the Auditor-General’s office and whether there was any link between the Unit and the state capture Zondo Commission and the internal audit that the Unit was investigating? There had been an ongoing investigation into land restitution since 2012 and another investigation since 2014. Why had they not been prioritised? People and witnesses would vanish in five years and then it would become a fruitless exercise. It was not a good way of fighting corruption.
Adv Mulaudzi was concerned about gender-based violence of which there was an element in the Unit. The Members had seen the letter in which Adv Mothibi had responded but there was a group of men abusing women. Parliament wanted to be assured that the Unit was not fighting women. It might be necessary to invite the group to tell the Members about their concerns. Why was the Head of Human Capital trying so hard to find women? Why could she not find women? Were there no qualified women? Was it the men pressurising her or was it true that women were the greatest oppressors of women?
He asked whether the Special Tribunal was going to be independent. It was going to be subject to the review by the courts. It could be a fruitless exercise as people could say that it was a ready-made gun for the Unit. The Unit had to go on an equal footing with the defendant. He asked what the Health Sector anti-corruption forum was doing about the collusion between lawyers and the respondents which had reached agreements containing a ballooned amount. Even the State Attorney’s Office had been impacted, so what was Adv Mothibi doing?
Adv Mulaudzi asked about the under-expenditure on employees’ compensation. Was that because of the review process? Was that now finalised because the Unit was underspending? He was particularly concerned about the ballooning of expenditure on security. It had increased from R174 000 in 2017/18 to R1.72 million in the year under review. How did the Unit account for that? The Unit had procured State Attorneys from the State Attorney’s Office. How much had the Unit spent on procuring lawyers from the State Attorney’s Office in 2018/19? The irregularity about the overpayment of compensation was a concern. One just needed to use common sense and not pay someone more than he was earning.
He noted that the Standard Operating Procedures and Organisation Review had been deferred by management. Why had they done so? Regarding the Anti-Corruption Strategy, he asked how far the Unit was with that strategy as the Unit had been mandated by the Anti-Corruption Unit to develop the strategy.
The Unit had previously reported about the internship programme which was to have been active by 2018.
He asked how far the SIU was with that programme. How many people living with disability were employed in the Unit? Finally, what about the performance bonuses? Was there a performance system or did people in the Unit just give themselves bonuses?
Prof C Msimang (IFP) thanked the presenters for the report. The SIU talked of three clean audits since 2016 and performance outcomes of 100%. He noted the positive nature of the report. What did it indicate? Was the country winning a number of battles even though it was losing the war or was the country winning the war? Concerning local government, he noted that the Auditor-General’s reports over the years had pointed out a number of negative issues at local government level. How much was the unit involved in local government work and why did local government fail to rise to the many challenges? Could the SIU suggest what should happen at local government level to win the battle, and the war?
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) asked about the number or percentage of invoices paid within 30 days.
The report said that the investigation into the Esidimeni tragedy had taken place long after people had left. Would the SIU be following up? Slide 62 showed the number of employees on disability leave. What did that mean because slide 73 referred to injured on duty and indicated that there were no injuries? What was the number of employees with disabilities? If there were no staff with disabilities, then the SIU should not put that statistic there. Of the 532 employees, how many were disabled, if any?
The Chairperson stated that the Committee needed a report on the issue of the State Attorneys very urgently as it dealt with corruption that even implicated members of the legal profession. He wanted the matter expedited. When would the SIU be able to report? He wanted to know about the outside counsel that SIU had used. He wanted regular updates on how many advocates were being used and he wanted to know how many of them were black advocates. He wanted a detailed report on all legal outsourcing.
The Chairperson stated that he needed a detailed plan around how the SIU would be dealing with women and disability. He did not want the SIU to answer then. Government and Cabinet was very adamant that all government departments and entities had to pay invoices within 30 days because government became responsible for SMMEs going under when they were not paid. He warned that all those reporting to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Developments would have to ensure payment within 30 days.
Response by SIU
Adv Mothibi replied that the DoJ& CD had established and administered the Special Tribunal. SIU had reported on it only because it would have an impact on the SIU but it had had nothing to do with it. The Special Tribunal had been set up to hear the SIU cases. The independence of the Tribunal was sacrosanct. The Special Tribunal had been established to investigate matters of the SIU and to adjudicate. It had been mentioned merely in order to give a comprehensive report.
He informed the Committee that the lifestyle audit was in response to a request for the assistance of the SIU. He reminded Members that the SIU investigated only on the basis of a proclamation so the Unit would have to discuss with the Department of Public Works exactly what their requirements were in terms of a lifestyle audit. If appropriate the SIU would refer the Department of Public Works elsewhere.
Regarding the overpayment of members, Adv Mothibi explained that a situation had been discovered a year previously: SIU had two pay scales, one which had been approved and one that had not been approved but had been an interim pay scale. It came to light that the interim pay scale had never been approved as expected. One of the persons who had since left had been overpaid by almost R2 million. The SIU had disclosed that as an irregularity to the auditors. The Unit now used only the approved scale. A process was underway to recoup the monies paid irregularly. The SIU had issued summonses
Adv Mothibi stated that the funding model of fees for services rendered did not work. Some departments paid but some local government structures did not pay and they gave reasons such as that they had not budgeted for it. When a proclamation was issued by the President, it was not legal for a department to pay as the service had not been initiated by the department. If the SIU was investigating the top management, they did not look on the SIU invoice favourably. That matter had to be included in the SIU Act Amendments. The SIU had pretty much finalised the draft which would then go into the legislative programme. The SIU had discussed the matter with National Treasury. Departments and entities that could not pay another government department had to apply to National Treasury for an exemption from paying. Although National Treasury had received some applications, it had not approved any of them to date.
Regarding the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) referrals, Adv Mothibi agreed that they had not been acted upon and so the MoU was being reviewed. Some fundamental legal questions had come up and needed to be addressed. The SIU legislation stated that once the SIU had evidence of a criminal offence, the Unit had to refer the case to the NPA. In his engagement with the NPA, there had been issues relating to the opening of a document and whether the investigations of the SIU could be used in a criminal court. He had reached agreement with the NDDP that the NPA would take the matters to court and see if there was any impediment to using the investigations. Dockets were sent to NPA which sent them to the South African Police Service (SAPS) to open a docket. Once the NPA had the docket, if further investigation was needed, it was sent back to SAPS. The SIU was asking why it could not do the investigation as it knew the case already. The MoU had not yet been finalised but he approved the idea of testing the matter in court.
The Investigation under proclamation of the court building was still underway. Information had been collected. He would obtain and forward an update. The investigation into electronic monitoring at the Department of Correctional Services was complete and the report had been issued. However, even before the report had been finalised the SIU had referred a number of disciplinary processes. A litigation was underway with the supply company. The Department had been advised to request the report from the Presidency. Litigation regarding Adv Mwerbi was still underway.
Adv Mothibi explained that his colleague in Human Capital was checking to make sure about the vacancy rate but the SIU wanted to keep it low enough that it did not impact on the operations of the Unit. The SIU had implemented an internship for those who wanted to be forensic investigators and the Unit had 20 LLB graduates who were on that programme. The Unit had just begun another internship for data analytics.
Concerning a performance management system, he noted that the system in the Unit did not require people to sign off on their performance agreement. A policy had been developed and approved in 2013 but never implemented. That policy would be implemented with a new Performance Management Agreement.
Regarding the presentation format, Adv Mothibi stated that they would take the points to heart. The report had been drawn up in line with everything that the Unit had to report on. He would ensure that the font was larger in future and that the colour did not compromise the readability. The level of “Chief” was an executive level but was not correlated to government levels of employment. It related to the “C” suite in corporate organisations.
Adv Mothibi sajd he had an agreement with the investigators that matters would be completed within a year and if a matter should go beyond a year, the investigator had to provide an interim report that would indicate exactly when the report would be complete. Relating to Programme 1 and the ICT plan, he explained that it showed targets which had and had not been achieved but the percentages were embedded in text. He assured Members that he did read the Annual Report and tried his utmost best to resolve issues.
The consultants, Deloittes, had left before placements had happened because the company had fulfilled the requirements of its contract. The placements had been made exactly according to the principles and specifications. There were about 100 staff members who were unhappy about their placement. The process was that their cases would again be reviewed. Only the approved pay grade had been used. The job grades had been linked to the current remuneration scale so that people knew their salaries when they were placed. The details of the 111 bursaries would be submitted in writing. There was an equity plan and the SIU would do its best to bring in women at the appropriate level and not just at unskilled levels. The SIU would have to demonstrate what the SIU was doing. The audit of skills would identify who needed what training. Employees were invited to indicate areas where they required training. The training audit would be forwarded as it had not yet been completed.
The CFO stated that detailed calculations had been done for employees on the interim scale but when it had become known that the Ministry had not approved the positions, that expenditure had become irregular. There was a footnote in the Annual Report explaining the additional security costs. The increase in costs related to the Bloemfontein office where the SIU had had a tenant that had employed security services and when the tenant had left, the entrance to the offices and the basement where the pool cars were housed were without security. The SIU had been obliged to employ its own security services. Similarly, in the Pretoria offices, the landlord provided security within the building but not where the pool cars were parked and there were attempts to steal the vehicles. The SIU had employed guards for that area over the weekend and from 6pm to 6am weekdays.
The financial system had to be changed to enable the recording of the date of the receipt of invoices. For that reason, the Unit had been unable to measure for the first two quarters but had achieved over 95% in the last two quarters. What the Unit had realised was that service providers had to be trained to send the invoices to a central person in finance and not to the person that they were working with or someone in the line because then the invoices did not reach finance timeously. The staff was working on that and the target of 100% payment within 30 days would be achieved.
The CFO committed to supplying the Committee with an updated list of those departments, entities and municipalities that had not paid for services rendered as of the end of Quarter 2. R493 million had been outstanding and to date R93 million had been recovered.
Adv Mothibi stated that the Unit did its very best to get a clean audit. He explained that the re-organisation of the unit was meant to ensure that it improved on the inefficiencies. The design structure had affected a number of personnel. 1% of staff were trenched. He was certain that the process was as objective as possible and organisation-based. The issue around the two scales where the over-paid person had been over-paid by R2 million was a separate issue from the retrenchment. He supported the need for women in the organisation at senior levels and would demonstrate how that had been done in the recruitment programme. He would present a plan. SIU had to be frank that there was not a disabled person in the organisation but he had to be active and attend to the recruitment generally of persons with disability.
Regarding corruption in local government, Adv Mothibi informed the Committee that the SIU had a presentation for SCOPA. Extensive investigations showed poor project management, poor leadership, poor governance and the SIU would need to work with local government in resolving the issues. The Unit would recommend the model being used with the Department of Health. There was no consequence management in local government and when there was, the sanctions did not fit the offence or the person resigned and re-surfaced elsewhere in local government.
He could see traction with the new case management system that had been implemented, even in the high court. The Unit did work with the Zondo Commission. The SIU Act stated that if there was a criminal matter, the case had to be handed over to the NPA or other appropriate organs of state. How did the Unit decide which cases were for the SIU and which for the Public Protector? The SIU would take the matter through a process and then if SIU was investigating a case, other agencies would not investigate. The SIU also engaged with the lead investigators at state capture commissions and where it was appropriate for SIU to investigate an aspect of the corruption, the Unit did so.
Where was SIU in those years of state capture? Adv Mothibi said that everyone had acknowledged that the criminal justice system had to improve and that actions had to be taken. In the past there had not been a robust attention to the matters. When Bosasa was referred to SIU, the company had been investigated but when the matter was referred to the NPA, the matters were not acted upon. The convergence of views was that the SIU needed to investigate and where there was evidence, it had to be acted on. The JCPS cluster had met and had agreed on a focus on collaboration, including in the Ant-Corruption Task Team. The challenges in the SIU would be presented on the next occasion in Parliament. The allegations were taken to heart but he was satisfied that allegations were unfounded. He had a clear conscience and he undertook that the Unit had not been involved in sexual harassment or gender-based violence. If evidence was brought forward, the matter would be taken to the relevant organisations. He believed that “Clean up your mess” was a relative term as the SIU was not a mess but it was improving on those areas that needed attention.
Regarding the litigation process with Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse Local Municipality in the High Court in Limpopo, Adv Mothibi stated that the other party had indicated that it wanted the matter to be expedited so that case would probably go to the Special Tribunal. The collusion of lawyers in the cases reported in the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum had led to an investigation in the Eastern Cape where the SIU found fraudulent claims running into billions of Rand. One legal practitioner had been charged and the prosecution had to follow. There was now an overlap between the health investigations and the legal investigations and the Unit would go back and focus on those cases. What the SIU had found was in the State Attorney’s Office case there were fraudulent claims and that settlements were reached without the agreement of legal authorities. A certain number of briefs were given to a certain individual and the SIU was investigating whether preference was given to that individual. That preference had resulted in pointing out the Head of the State Attorney’s Office in Gauteng who had resigned. The investigation cut across the whole country with State Attorney’s Offices being involved and intermediaries being used. The appointment of attorneys by State Attorney’s Offices did not take into account any process for appointment. There also had to be equity in the process. He now had to determine whether he should issue an interim report or not. It was a wide, intensive investigation. He had informed the DoJ&CD and it had put measures in place to ensure that disadvantaged black lawyers were appointed. It was difficult to say how much had been spent on counsel through the State Attorney’s Office but he could find out as the SIU had been working through the State Attorney Office when requiring counsel.
Adv Mothibi stated that the Anti-Corruption Strategy had been completed but SIU could not take the credit as it had been completed by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. The SIU managed the CARA (Criminal Asset Recovery Account) funds.
Mr Dyantyi pointed out that Adv Mothibi had brought a whole team to answer but he had answered all the questions. He had responded but not correctly on the issues that Mr Dyantyi had raised. The entire Administration Programme was incorrectly presented in the Annual Report, not just the ICT section.
The Chairperson stated that the Secretary would send unanswered questions to the Unit for answers in writing. He asked the Head of Human Capital if she had something to add.
Ms Mashego stated that she would like to withdraw the statement that the Unit would “work hard to employ women’ and replace it with a statement that the Unit would deliberately and intentionally commit itself to employ women in senior positions in the SIU. She had ring-fenced positions for women. Regarding employment equity, where the report stated: “current employees, contracted employees and employees living with a disability”. There were six employees on disability leave, two were on temporary disability leave and four were on permanent disability leave. The organisation did not have people that they had identified as people living with a disability but members of the Unit had been asked to disclose their status so that proper statistics could be provided.
She also referred to the grievance case brought by an employee against his manager that had been withdrawn as the matter had been settled between the two parties. She would provide the details of the 111 employees who had been awarded bursaries.
The Chairperson said that it was a serious matter of discomfort if government had to endeavour (work) to employ women. He would not accept that.
The Chairperson thanked the team for their responses. He explained that as Chairperson, he had to balance the fact that Members were not only asking questions for themselves as Members but also for their constituencies. There was irritation that both sides were taking a lot of time but he had to consider the person in a rural area who was interested in the discussions. The Department had to balance their responses and focus on the most critical issues. The extensive time was part of the robustness of the process but time had to be used efficiently as time was a cost.
During January, the Committee would want a report, including an update on the performance management system. The organisation not a spaza shop.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.