I have decided to appoint Advocate Willem Heath as the new Head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in terms of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act of 1996, in order to strengthen the institutional capacity to fight crime and corruption. The appointment is with immediate effect.
The appointment will ease the pressure on Mr Willie Hofmeyr, the Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, who has headed the SIU in conjunction with his role as Head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU). Mr Hofmeyr will retain the AFU responsibility.
Under the leadership of Mr Hofmeyr the two units have made a significant contribution in the fight against crime. It has now become necessary to further strengthen our capacity by placing each of these two units under separate commands. The strengthening of the units at leadership level will improve government’s response to the growing crime syndicates, more sophisticated means of committing crimes and the ever growing threat of cyber crime. It will help us in furthering our objective of dealing decisively with crime and corruption, one of government’s five priorities.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Jeff Radebe has been in discussion with Mr Hofmeyr and the SIU since last year, 2010, on the separation of functions.
The SIU is one of the biggest agencies fighting corruption in South Africa. It was established to investigate serious malpractice or maladministration in connection with the administration of state institutions, state assets and public money as well as any conduct which may seriously harm the interests of the public. It also uses civil litigation to recover or prevent losses of state assets through corruption or maladministration. I have to date signed 22 proclamations authorising the SIU to investigate a number of state entities.
The Unit was previously headed by Advocate Heath at the time when he was a Judge of the Eastern Cape High Court. He resigned his position as head of the SIU as a result of a Constitutional Court ruling in 2000 which found that the appointment of a judge as head of the SIU was unconstitutional. He resigned as a judge in 2001.
He currently serves as advisor to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and is the chief executive officer of Heath Forensic Investigations.
Meanwhile, the AFU was established in May 1999 in the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions. It has the power to seize assets that are either the proceeds of crime or that have been used to commit crime. Its main focus is organised crime, drug related crime, serious violent crime and serious economic crime and corruption.
We thank Mr Hofmeyr and acknowledge his contribution and achievements as head of the SIU over the past few years. We are also happy to welcome Mr Heath back to the SIU.
Issued by the Presidency
Enquiries: Mac Maharaj on 079 879 3203